Empirical work is reviewed which correlates the presence or absence of various parts of the auditory evoked potential with the disappearance and reemergence of auditory sensation during induction of and recovery from anesthesia. As a result, the hypothesis is generated that the electrophysiological correlate of auditory sensation is whatever neural activity generates the middle latency waves of the auditory evoked potential. This activity occurs from 20 to 80 ms poststimulus in the primary and secondary areas of the auditory cortex. Evidence (...) is presented suggesting that earlier or later waves in the auditory evoked potential do not covary with auditory sensation (as opposed to auditory perception) and it is therefore suggested that they are possibly not the electrophysiological correlates of sensation. (shrink)
The sense of being stared at is the basis of evil eye beliefs, which are regarded as superstitions because the emission of any form of energy from the human eye has been rejected by Western science. However, brainwaves in the 1–40 Hertz, 1–10 microvolt range emitted through the eye can be detected using a high-impedance electrode housed inside electromagnetically insulated goggles. This signal, which the author calls “human ocular extramission,” is physiologically active and has distinct electrophysiological properties from simultaneous brainwave (...) recordings over the forehead. Western science's rejection of evil eye beliefs may be based on an erroneous rejection of a widespread component of human consciousness, the sense of being stared at, which may in turn be based on a real electrophysiological signal. The author proposes a series of future studies designed to determine whether human ocular extramission is the basis of evil eye beliefs. (shrink)
Studies in cognitive psychology showed that personality (openness to experience, thin boundaries, absorption), creativity, nocturnal awakenings, and attitude toward dreams are significantly related to dream recall frequency (DRF). These results suggest the possibility of neurophysiological trait differences between subjects with high and low DRF. To test this hypothesis we compared sleep characteristics and alpha reactivity to sounds in subjects with high and low DRF using polysomnographic recordings and electroencephalography (EEG). We acquired EEG from 21 channels in 36 healthy subjects while (...) they were presented with a passive auditory oddball paradigm (frequent standard tones, rare deviant tones and very rare first names) during wakefulness and sleep (intensity, 50 dB above the subject’s hearing level). Subjects were selected as High-recallers (HR, DRF = 4.4 ± 1.1 dream recalls per week) and Low-recallers (LR, DRF = 0.25 ± 0.1) using a questionnaire and an interview on sleep and dream habits. Despite the disturbing setup, the subjects’ quality of sleep was generally preserved. First names induced a more sustained decrease in alpha activity in HR than in LR at Pz (1000-1200ms) during wakefulness, but no group difference was found in REM sleep. The current dominant hypothesis proposes that alpha rhythms would be involved in the active inhibition of the brain regions not involved in the ongoing brain operation. According to this hypothesis, a more sustained alpha decrease in HR would reflect a longer release of inhibition, suggesting a deeper processing of complex sounds than in LR during wakefulness. A possibility to explain the absence of group difference during sleep is that increase in alpha power in HR may have resulted in awakenings. Our results support this hypothesis since HR experienced more intra sleep wakefulness than LR (30 ± 4 vs 14 ± 4 min). As a whole our results support the hypothesis of neurophysiological trait differences in high and low-recallers. (shrink)
Daily our central nervous system receives inputs via several sensory modalities, processes them and integrates information in order to produce a suitable behaviour. The amazing part is that such a multisensory integration brings all information into a unified percept. An approach to start investigating this property is to show that perception is better and faster when multimodal stimuli are used as compared to unimodal stimuli. This forms the first part of the present study conducted in a non-human primate’s model (n=2) (...) engaged in a detection sensory-motor task where visual and auditory stimuli were displayed individually or simultaneously. The measured parameters were the reaction time (RT) between stimulus and onset of arm movement, successes and errors percentages, as well as the evolution as a function of time of these parameters with training. As expected, RTs were shorter when the subjects were exposed to combined stimuli. The gains for both subjects were around 20 and 40 msec, as compared with the auditory and visual stimulus alone, respectively. Moreover the number of correct responses increased in response to bimodal stimuli. We interpreted such multisensory advantage through redundant signal effect which decreases perceptual ambiguity, increases speed of stimulus detection and improves performance accuracy. The second part of the study presents single unit recordings derived from the premotor cortex (PM) of the same subjects during the sensory-motor task. Response patterns to sensory/multisensory stimulation are documented and specific type proportions are reported. Characterization of bimodal neurons indicates a mechanism of audio-visual integration possibly through a decrease of inhibition. Nevertheless the neural processing leading to faster motor response from PM as a polysensory association cortical area remains still unclear. (shrink)
The diminished fear reactivity is one of the most valid physiological findings in psychopathy research. In a fear conditioning paradigm, with faces as conditioned stimulus (CS) and electric shock as unconditioned stimulus (US), we investigated a sample of 14 high psychopathic violent offenders. Event related potentials, skin conductance responses (SCR) as well as subjective ratings of the CSs were collected. This study assessed to which extent the different facets of the psychopathy construct contribute to the fear conditioning deficits observed in (...) psychopaths. Participants with high scores on the affective facet subscale of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) showed weaker conditioned fear responses and lower N100 amplitudes compared to low scorers. In contrast, high scorers on the affective facet rated the CS+ (paired) more negatively than low scorers regarding the CS- (unpaired). Regarding the P300, high scores on the interpersonal facet were associated with increased amplitudes to the CS+ compared to the CS-, while the opposed pattern was found with the antisocial facet. Both, the initial and terminal contingent negative variation indicated a divergent pattern: participants with pronounced interpersonal deficits, showed increased cortical negativity to the CS+ compared to the CS-, whereas a reversed CS+/CS- differentiation was found in offenders scoring high on the antisocial facet. The present study revealed that deficient fear conditioning in psychopathy was most pronounced in offenders with high scores on the affective facet. Event related potentials suggest that participants with distinct interpersonal deficits showed increased information processing, whereas the antisocial facet was linked to decreased attention and interest to the CS+. These data indicate that an approach to the facets of psychopathy can help to resolve ambiguous findings in psychopathy research and enables a more precise and useful description of this disorder. (shrink)
Our representation of the visual world can be modulated by spatially specific attentional biases that depend flexibly on task goals. We compared searching for task-relevant features in perceived versus remembered objects. When searching perceptual input, selected task-relevant and suppressed task-irrelevant features elicited contrasting spatiotopic ERP effects, despite them being perceptually identical. This was also true when participants searched a memory array, suggesting that memory had retained the spatial organisation of the original perceptual input and that this representation could be modulated (...) in a spatially specific fashion. However, task-relevant selection and task-irrelevant suppression effects were of the opposite polarity when searching remembered compared to perceived objects. We suggest that this surprising result stems from the nature of feature- and object-based representations when stored in visual short-term memory. When stored, features are integrated into objects, meaning that the spatially specific selection mechanisms must operate upon objects rather than specific feature-level representations. (shrink)
We have explored both the benefits and detriments of providing electrical input through a cochlear implant in one ear to the auditory system of young children. A cochlear implant delivers electrical pulses to stimulate the auditory nerve, providing children who are deaf with access to sound. The goals of implantation are to restrict reorganization of the deprived immature auditory brain and promote development of hearing and spoken language. It is clear that limiting the duration of deprivation is a key factor. (...) Additional considerations are the onset, etiology, and use of residual hearing as each of these can have unique effects on auditory development in the pre-implant period. New findings show that many children receiving unilateral cochlear implants are developing mature-like brainstem and thalamo-cortical responses to sound with long term use despite these sources of variability; however, there remain considerable abnormalities in cortical function. The most apparent, determined by implanting the other ear and measuring responses to acute stimulation, is a loss of normal cortical response from the deprived ear. Recent data reveal that this can be avoided in children by early implantation of both ears simultaneously or with limited delay. We conclude that auditory development requires input early in development and from both ears. (shrink)
Accumulating evidence indicates that control mechanisms are not tightly bound to conscious perception since both conscious and unconscious information can trigger control processes, probably through the activation of higher-order association areas like the prefrontal cortex. Studying the modulation of control-related prefrontal signals in a microscopic, neuronal level during conscious and unconscious neuronal processing and under control-free conditions could provide an elementary understanding of these interactions. Here we performed extracellular electrophysiological recordings in the macaque lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) during monocular physical (...) alternation (PA) and binocular flash suppression (BFS) and studied the local scale relationship between beta (15-30Hz) oscillations, a rhythmic signal believed to reflect the current sensory, motor or cognitive state (status-quo),and conscious or unconscious neuronal processing. First, we show that beta oscillations are observed in the LPFC during resting state. Both PA and BFS had a strong impact on the power of this spontaneous rhythm with the modulation pattern of beta power being identical across these two conditions. Specifically, both perceptual dominance and suppression of local neuronal populations in BFS were accompanied by a transient beta desynchronization followed by beta activity rebound, a pattern also observed when perception occurred without any underlying visual competition in PA. These results indicate that under control-free conditions, at least one rhythmic signal known to reflect control processes in the LPFC (i.e. beta oscillations) is not obstructed by local neuronal, and accordingly perceptual, suppression, thus being independent from temporally co-existing conscious and unconscious local neuronal representations. Future studies could reveal the additive effects of motor or cognitive control demands on prefrontal beta oscillations during conscious and unconscious processing. (shrink)
Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition (...) and hydration) in the presence or absence of pain in non-communicative patients. Here, we aimed to better clarify this issue by re-analyzing previously published data on pain perception (Prog Brain Res 2009 177, 329–38) and end-of-life decisions (J Neurol 2010 258, 1058–65) in patients with disorders of consciousness. In a sample of 2259 European healthcare professionals we found that, for VS/UWS more respondents agreed with treatment withdrawal when they considered that VS/UWS patients did not feel pain (77%) as compared to those who thought VS/UWS did feel pain (59%). This interaction was influenced by religiosity and professional background. For MCS, end-of-life attitudes were not influenced by opinions on pain perception. Within a contemporary ethical context we discuss (1) the evolving scientific understandings of pain perception and their relationship to existing clinical and ethical guidelines; (2) the discrepancies of attitudes within (and between) healthcare providers and their consequences for treatment approaches, and (3) the implicit but complex relationship between pain perception and attitudes toward life-sustaining treatments. (shrink)
fMRI is a tool to study brain function noninvasively that can reliably identify sites of neural involvement for a given task. However, to what extent can fMRI signals be related to measures obtained in electrophysiology? Can the blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal be interpreted as spatially pooled spiking activity? Here we combine knowledge from neurovascular coupling, functional imaging and neurophysiology to discuss whether fMRI has succeeded in demonstrating one of the most established functional properties in the visual brain, namely directional selectivity in the (...) motion-processing region V5/ MT+. We also discuss differences of fMRI and electrophysiology in their sensitivity to distinct physiological processes. We conclude that fMRI constitutes a complement, not a poor-resolution substitute, to invasive techniques, and that it deserves interpretations that acknowledge its stand as a separate signal. (shrink)
Two meta-analyses of pharmacological research are presented, demonstrating that psychoactive drugs have consistent effects on EEG and sleep outside of their effects on REM sleep, and demonstrating that drugs other than those affecting sleep neurotransmitter systems and REM sleep can also alter reported nightmare occurrence. These data suggest that the neurobiology data terrain outside activation-synthesis may include sleep and dream electrophysiology, cognitive reports of dreaming, effects of alterations in consciousness on dreaming, immunology and host defense, and clinical therapies for sleep (...) disorders. (shrink)
During advanced meditative practices, unusual perceptions can arise including the sense of receiving information about unknown people who are deceased (“discarnates”). The reported experience of initiating mental communication with the deceased, may involve a state of consciousness similar to that achieved in contemplative meditation practices. As with meditation, this mental state involves calming mental chatter and becoming receptive to subtle feelings and sensations. Psychometric and brain electrophysiology data were collected from six individuals who had previously reported accurate information about discarnates (...) under double-blind conditions. Each experimental participant performed two tasks with eyes closed. In the first task, the participant was given only the first name of a discarnate and asked 25 questions. After each question, the participant was asked to silently perceive information relevant to the question for 20 seconds so clean electro-encephalography data could be collected and then respond verbally. Responses were then transcribed and scored by individuals who knew the discarnates. Of the six participants, two could not be evaluated, and the four other participants scored higher than chance level (p<0.03 for 3 of the 4 participants). The correlation between accuracy and brain activity was significant in frontal theta for one participant (p < 0.01). In the second task, participants were asked to experience four mental states, each repeated three times for one minute: (1) Thinking about a known living person, (2) Listening to a biography, (3) Thinking about an imaginary person, and (4) Interacting mentally with a known discarnate. Statistically significant differences in electrocortical activity among the four conditions were obtained in all six participants, primarily at gamma frequencies. These differences suggest that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination. (shrink)
In the history of science, the alterations of laboratorial working conditions during a defined period of time and the processes leading to substitution of one instrument by another are not well reconstructed. With respect to electrophysiology between 1845 and 1910, the present article attempts to call attention to the relationship between the use of instruments in a laboratory, the change in these instruments and the change of local environments in which the laboratory was situated.
Creating focal lesions in primary visual cortex (V1) provides an opportunity to study the role of extra-geniculo-striate pathways for activating extrastriate visual cortex. Previous studies have shown that more than 95% of neurons in macaque area V2 and V3 stop firing after reversibly cooling V1 [1,2,3]. However, no studies on long term recovery in areas V2, V3 following permanent V1 lesions have been reported in the macaque. Here we use macaque fMRI to study area V2, V3 activity patterns from 1 (...) to 22 months after lesioning area V1. We find that visually driven BOLD responses persist inside the V1-lesion projection zones (LPZ) of areas V2 and V3, but are reduced in strength by ,70%, on average, compared to prelesion levels. Monitoring the LPZ activity over time starting one month following the V1 lesion did not reveal systematic changes in BOLD signal amplitude. Surprisingly, the retinotopic organization inside the LPZ of areas V2, V3 remained similar to that of the non-lesioned hemisphere, suggesting that LPZ activation in V2, V3 is not the result of input arising from nearby (non-lesioned) V1 cortex. Electrophysiology recordings of multi-unit activity corroborated the BOLD observations: visually driven multi-unit responses could be elicited inside the V2 LPZ, even when the visual stimulus was entirely contained within the scotoma induced by the V1 lesion. Restricting the stimulus to the intact visual hemi-field produced no significant BOLD modulation inside the V2, V3 LPZs. We conclude that the observed activity patterns are largely mediated by parallel, V1-bypassing, subcortical pathways that can activate areas V2 and V3 in the absence of V1 input. Such pathways may contribute to the behavioral phenomenon of blindsight. (shrink)
Electrophysiology studies routinely investigate the relationship between neural oscillations and task performance. However, the sluggish nature of the BOLD response means that few researchers have investigated the spectral properties of the BOLD signal in a similar manner. For the first time we have applied group ICA to fMRI data collected during a standard working memory task (delayed match-to-sample) and using a multivariate analysis, we investigate the relationship between working memory performance (accuracy and reaction time) and BOLD spectral power within functional (...) networks. Our results indicate that BOLD spectral power within specific networks (visual, temporal-parietal, posterior default-mode network, salience network, basal ganglia) correlated with task accuracy. Multivariate analyses show that the relationship between task accuracy and BOLD spectral power is stronger than the relationship between BOLD spectral power and other variables (age, gender, head movement, and neuropsychological measures). A traditional General Linear Model (GLM) analysis found no significant group differences, or regions that covaried in signal intensity with task accuracy, suggesting that BOLD spectral power holds unique information that is lost in a standard GLM approach. We suggest that the combination of ICA and BOLD spectral power is a useful novel index of cognitive performance that may be more sensitive to brain-behaviour relationships than traditional approaches. (shrink)
The locality assumption (LA) seems rather awkward, especially when one considers centres of neuronal specialisation as defined by observed CNS activity. It is clear from electrophysiology that extra-striate functional compartmentalisation (modularity) is rather less well-defined than first thought; neuropsychological assessment attaching significance to varieties of preserved behaviour also reveals that some basic flaws must be inherent in current reasoning supporting LA.
Although the history of nerve and muscle electrophysiology is often truncated and presented as if it started with Galvani's Commentarius (1791) late in the 18th century, a strong (but narrower) case for animal electricity had been made a few decades earlier with three types of fishes: "torpedo" rays, electric catfishes, and the electric "eel." (For a history of electric fishes and how their shocks ultimately were perceived as electrical, see Finger and Piccolino 2011.) More than 2,000 years before the Common (...) Era, Egyptian artisans had drawn the electric catfish of the Nile on the walls of some tombs, and later the ancient Greeks and Romans described the flat saltwater rays that could numb or torpify at a distance. .. (shrink)
Evidence has amassed from both animal intracranial recordings and human electrophysiology that neural oscillatory mechanisms play a critical role in a number of cognitive functions such as learning, memory, feature binding and sensory gating. The wide availability of high-density electrical and magnetic recordings (64-256 channels) over the past two decades has allowed for renewed efforts in the characterization and localization of these rhythms. A variety of cognitive effects that are associated with specific brain oscillations have been reported, which range in (...) spectral, temporal, and spatial characteristics depending on the context. Our laboratory has focused on investigating the role of alpha-band oscillatory activity (8-14 Hz) as a potential attentional suppression mechanism, and this particular oscillatory attention mechanism will be the focus of the current review. We discuss findings in the context of intersensory selective attention as well as intrasensory spatial and feature-based attention in the visual, auditory, and tactile domains. The weight of evidence suggests that alpha-band oscillations can be actively invoked within cortical regions across multiple sensory systems, particularly when these regions are involved in processing irrelevant or distracting information. That is, a central role for alpha seems to be as an attentional suppression mechanism when objects or features need to be specifically ignored or selected against. (shrink)
Recent advances in basic neuroscience research across a wide range of methodologies have contributed significantly to our understanding of human cortical electrophysiology and functional brain imaging. Translation of this research into clinical neurosurgery has opened doors for advanced mapping of functionality that previously was prohibitively difficult, if not impossible. Here we present the case of a unique individual with congenital blindness and medically refractory epilepsy who underwent neurosurgical treatment of her seizures. Pre-operative evaluation presented the challenge of accurately and robustly (...) mapping the cerebral cortex for an individual with a high probability of significant cortical re-organization. Additionally, a blind individual has unique priorities in one’s ability to read Braille by touch and sense the environment primarily by sound than the non-vision impaired person. For these reasons we employed additional measures to map sensory, motor, speech, language, and auditory perception by employing a number of cortical electrophysiologic mapping and functional magnetic resonance imaging methods. Our data show promising results in the application of these adjunctive methods in the pre-operative mapping of otherwise difficult to localize, and highly variable, functional cortical areas. (shrink)
Phillips & Silverstein offer an exciting synthesis of ongoing efforts to link the clinical and cognitive manifestations of schizophrenia with cellular accounts of its pathophysiology. We applaud their efforts but wonder whether the highly inclusive notion of “context” adequately captures some important details regarding schizophrenia and NMDA/glutamate function that are suggested by work on language processing and cognitive electrophysiology.