The neural basis of the human brain's ability to discriminate pitch has been investigated by functional neuroimaging and the study of lesioned brains, indicating the critical importance of right and left Heschl's gyrus (HG) in pitch perception. Nonetheless, there remains some uncertainty with regard to localization and lateralization of pitch discrimination, partly because neuroimaging results do not allow us to draw inferences about the causality. To address the problem of causality in pitch discrimination functions, we used transcranial direct current (...) stimulation (tDCS) to downregulate (via cathodal stimulation) and upregulate (via anodal stimulation) excitability in either left or right auditory cortex and measured the effect on performance in a pitch discrimination task in comparison with sham stimulation. Cathodal stimulation of HG on the left and on the right hemispheres adversely affected pitch discrimination in comparison to sham stimulation, with the effect on the right being significantly stronger than on the left. Anodal stimulation on either side had no effect on performance in comparison to sham. Our results indicate that both left and right HG are causally involved in pitch discrimination, although the right auditory cortex might be a stronger contributor. (shrink)
Reading is a surprisingly difficult task that, at a minimum, requires recognizing a visual stimulus and linking it with its corresponding sound and meaning. Neurologically, this involves an anatomically distributed set of brain regions cooperating to solve the problem. It has been hypothesized that the supramarginal gyrus (SMG) contributes preferentially to phonological aspects of word processing and thus plays an important role in visual word recognition. Here, we used chronometric transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the functional specificity and (...) timing of SMG involvement in reading visually presented words. Participants performed tasks designed to focus on either the phonological, semantic, or visual aspects of written words while double pulses of TMS (delivered 40 msec apart) were used to temporarily interfere with neural information processing in the left SMG at five different time windows. Stimulation at 80/120, 120/160 and 160/200 msec post-stimulus onset significantly slowed subjects’ reaction times in the phonological task. This inhibitory effect was specific to the phonological condition, with no effect of TMS in the semantic or visual tasks, consistent with claims that SMG contributes preferentially to phonological aspects of word processing. The fact that the effect began within 80–120 msec of the onset of the stimulus and continued for approximately 100 msec, indicates that phonological processing initiates early and is sustained over time. These findings are consistent with accounts of visual word recognition that posit parallel activation of orthographic, phonological and semantic information that interact over time to settle into a distributed, but stable, representation of a word. (shrink)
Neuroimaging evidence suggests that the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) supports temporary storage of linguistic material during linguistic tasks rather than computing a syntactic representation. The LIFG is not activated by simple sentences but by complex sentences and maintenance of word lists. Under this hypothesis, agrammatism should only disturb comprehension for constructions in which storage is essential.
Faces activate specific brain regions in fMRI, including the fusiform gyrus (FG) and the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). The fact that the FG and pSTS are frequently co-activated suggests that they may interact synergistically in a distributed face processing network. Alternatively, the functions implemented by these regions may be encapsulated from each other. It has proven difficult to evaluate these two accounts during visual processing of face stimuli. However, if the FG and pSTS interact during face processing, the (...) substrate for such interactions may be apparent in a correlation of the BOLD timeseries from these two regions during periods of rest when no faces are present. To examine face-specific resting correlations, we developed a new partial functional connectivity approach in which we removed variance from the FG that was shared with other category-selective and control regions. The remaining ‘face-specific’ FG resting variance was then used to predict resting signals throughout the brain. In two experiments, we observed face-specific resting functional connectivity between FG and pSTS, and importantly, these correlations overlapped precisely with the face-specific pSTS region obtained from independent localizer runs. Additional region-of-interest and pattern analyses confirmed that the FG-pSTS resting correlations were face-specific. These findings support a model in which face processing is distributed among a finite number of connected, but nevertheless face-specialized regions. The discovery of category-specific interactions in the absence of visual input suggests that resting networks may provide a latent foundation for task processing. (shrink)
Humans communicate emotion vocally by modulating acoustic cues such as pitch, intensity and voice quality. Research has documented how the relative presence or absence of such cues alters the likelihood of perceiving an emotion, but the neural underpinnings of acoustic cue-dependent emotion perception remain obscure. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging in 20 subjects we examined a reciprocal circuit consisting of superior temporal cortex, amygdala and inferior frontal gyrus that may underlie affective prosodic comprehension. Results showed that increased saliency of (...) emotion-specific acoustic cues was associated with increased activation in superior temporal cortex (planum temporale (PT), posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG), and posterior superior middle gyrus (pMTG)) and amygdala, whereas decreased saliency of acoustic cues was associated with increased inferior frontal activity and temporo-frontal connectivity. These results suggest that sensory-integrative processing is facilitated when the acoustic signal is rich in affective information, yielding increased activation in temporal cortex and amygdala. Conversely, when the acoustic signal is ambiguous, greater evaluative processes are recruited, increasing activation in inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and IFG STG connectivity. Auditory regions may thus integrate acoustic information with amygdala input to form emotion-specific representations, which are evaluated within inferior frontal regions. (shrink)
Compared to objects, pictures of faces elicit a larger early electromagnetic response at occipito-temporal sites on the human scalp, with an onset of 130 ms and a peak at about 170 ms. This N170 face effect is larger in the right than the left hemisphere and has been associated with the early categorization of the stimulus as a face. Here we tested whether this effect can be observed in the absence of some of the visual areas showing a preferential response (...) to faces as typically identified in neuroimaging. Event related potentials were recorded in response to faces, cars and their phase-scrambled versions in a well-known brain-damaged case of prosopagnosia (PS). Despite the patient’s right inferior occipital gyrus lesion encompassing the most posterior cortical area showing preferential response to faces (“occipital face area”, OFA), we identified an early face-sensitive component over the right occipito-temporal hemisphere of the patient that was identified as the N170. A second experiment supported this conclusion, showing the typical N170 increase of latency and amplitude in response to inverted faces. In contrast, there was no N170 in the left hemisphere, where PS has a lesion to the middle fusiform gyrus and shows no evidence of face-preferential response in neuroimaging (no left “fusiform face area”, or lFFA). These results were replicated by a magneto-encephalographic (MEG) investigation of the patient, disclosing a M170 component only in the right hemisphere. These observations indicate that face preferential activation in the inferior occipital cortex is not necessary to elicit early visual responses associated with face perception (N170/M170) on the human scalp. These results further suggest that when the right inferior occipital cortex is damaged, the integrity of the middle fusiform gyrus and/or the superior temporal sulcus – two areas showing face preferential responses in the patient’s right hemisphere - might be necessary to generate the N170 effect. (shrink)
How a visual stimulus is initially categorized as a face in a network of human brain areas remains largely unclear. Hierarchical neuro-computational models of face perception assume that the visual stimulus is first decomposed in local parts in lower order visual areas. These parts would then be combined into a global representation in higher order face-sensitive areas of the occipito-temporal cortex. Here we tested this view in fMRI with visual stimuli that are categorized as faces based on their global configuration (...) rather than their local parts (2-tones Mooney figures and Arcimboldo’s facelike paintings). Compared to the same inverted visual stimuli that are not categorized as faces, these stimuli activated the right middle fusiform gyrus (“Fusiform face area”, FFA) and superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), with no significant activation in the posteriorly located inferior occipital gyrus (i.e., no “occipital face area”, OFA). This observation is strengthened by behavioral and neural evidence for normal face categorization of these stimuli in a brain-damaged prosopagnosic patient (PS) whose intact right middle fusiform gyrus and superior temporal sulcus are devoid of any potential face-sensitive inputs from the lesioned right inferior occipital cortex. Together, these observations indicate that face-preferential activation may emerge in higher order visual areas of the right hemisphere without any face-preferential inputs from lower order visual areas, supporting a non-hierarchical view of face perception in the visual cortex. (shrink)
While converging evidence implicates the right inferior parietal lobule in audiovisual integration, its role has not been fully elucidated by direct manipulation of cortical activity. Replicating and extending an experiment initially reported by Kamke, Vieth, Cottrell, and Mattingley (2012), we employed the sound-induced flash illusion, in which a single visual flash, when accompanied by two auditory tones, is misperceived as multiple flashes (Wilson, 1987; Shams, et al., 2000). Slow repetitive (1Hz) TMS administered to the right angular gyrus, but not (...) the right supramarginal gyrus, induced a transient decrease in the Peak Perceived Flashes (PPF), reflecting reduced susceptibility to the illusion. This finding independently confirms that perturbation of networks involved in multisensory integration can result in a more veridical representation of asynchronous auditory and visual events and that cross-modal integration is an active process in which the objective is the identification of a meaningful constellation of inputs, at times at the expense of accuracy. (shrink)
During times of emotional stress, individuals often engage in emotion regulation to reduce the experiential and physiological impact of negative emotions. Interestingly, emotion regulation strategies also influence memory encoding of the event. Cognitive reappraisal is associated with enhanced memory while expressive suppression is associated with impaired explicit memory of the emotional event. However, the mechanism by which these emotion regulation strategies affect memory is unclear. We used event-related fMRI to investigate the neural mechanisms that give rise to memory formation during (...) emotion regulation. Twenty-five participants viewed negative pictures while alternately engaging in cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression, or passive viewing. As part of the subsequent memory design, participants returned to the laboratory two weeks later for a surprise memory test. Behavioral results showed a reduction in negative affect and a retention advantage for reappraised stimuli relative to the other conditions. Imaging results showed that successful encoding during reappraisal was uniquely associated with greater co-activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus, amygdala and hippocampus, suggesting a possible role for elaborative encoding of negative memories. This study provides neurobehavioral evidence that engaging in cognitive reappraisal is advantageous to both affective and mnemonic processes. (shrink)
In an experimental study, we explored the role of auditory perception bias in vocal pitch imitation. In line with neuroanatomical differences in the lateral Heschl's gyrus, some listeners show an auditory perception bias for the sound as a whole which facilitates their perception of the fundamental frequency (the primary acoustic correlate of pitch). Other listeners focus on the harmonic constituents of the complex sound signal which may hamper the perception of the fundamental. These two listener types are referred to (...) as fundamental and spectral listeners, respectively. We hypothesized that the individual differences in speakers' capacity to imitate F0 found in earlier studies, may at least partly be due to the capacity to extract information about F0 from the speech signal. Participants' auditory perception bias was determined with a psychoacoustic perceptual test involving a missing fundamental. Subsequently, speech data were collected in a shadowing task with two conditions, one with a full speech signal and one with high-pass filtered speech above 300 Hz. The results showed that perception bias towards fundamental frequency was related to the degree of F0 imitation. The effect was stronger in the condition with high-pass filtered speech. The experimental outcomes suggest advantages for fundamental listeners in communicative situations where F0 imitation is used as a behavioral cue. Future research needs to determine to what extent auditory perception bias may be related to other individual properties known to improve imitation, such as phonetic talent. (shrink)
In autism, impairments in face processing are a relatively recent discovery, but have quickly become a widely accepted aspect of the behavioral profile. Only a handful of studies have investigated potential atypicalities in autism in the development of the neural substrates mediating face processing. High-functioning individuals with autism (HFA) and matched typically developing (TD) controls watched dynamic movie vignettes of faces, common objects, buildings, and scenes of navigation while undergoing an fMRI scan. With these data, we mapped the functional topography (...) of category-selective activation for faces bilaterally in the fusiform gyrus, occipital face area, and posterior superior temporal sulcus. Additionally, we mapped category selective activation for objects in the lateral occipital area and for places in the parahippocampal place area in the two groups. Our findings do not indicate a generalized disruption in the development of the entire ventral visual pathway in autism. Instead, our results suggest that the functional topography of face-related cortex is selectively disrupted in autism and that this alteration is present in early adolescence. Furthermore, for those HFA adolescents who do exhibit face-selective activation, this activation tends to be located in traditionally object-related regions, which supports the hypothesis that perceptual processing of faces in autism may be more akin to the perceptual processing of common objects in TD individuals. (shrink)
In sentence processing, it is still unclear how the neural language network successfully establishes argument–verb dependencies in its spatiotemporal neuronal dynamics. Previous work has suggested that the establishment of subject-verb and object–verb dependencies requires argument retrieval from working memory, and that dependency establishment in object-first sentences additionally necessitates argument reordering. We examine the spatiotemporal neuronal dynamics of the brain regions that subserve these sub-processes by crossing an argument-reordering factor (i.e., subject-first vs. object-first sentences) with an argument retrieval factor (i.e., short (...) vs. long argument–verb dependencies) in German. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found that reordering demands focally activate the left pars opercularis (Broca’s area), while storage and retrieval demands activated left temporo-parietal (TP) regions. In addition, when analyzing the time course of fMRI-informed equivalent current dipole sources in the EEG at the subcategorizing verb, we found that activity in the TP region occurs relatively early (40–180 ms), followed by activity in Broca’s area (300–500 ms). These findings were matched by topographical correlation analyses of fMRI activations in EEG sensor space, showing that, in the scalp potential, TP region activity surfaces as an early positivity and IFG activity as a later positivity in the scalp potential. These results provide fine-grained evidence for spatiotemporally separable sub-processes of argument retrieval and reordering in sentence processing. (shrink)
Landmarks play an important role in guiding navigational behavior. A host of studies in the last 15 years has demonstrated that environmental objects can act as landmarks for navigation in different ways. In this review, we propose a parsimonious four-part taxonomy for conceptualizing object location information during navigation. We begin by outlining object properties that appear to be important for a landmark to attain salience. We then systematically examine the different functions of objects as navigational landmarks based on previous behavioral (...) and neuroanatomical findings in rodents and humans. Evidence is presented showing that single environmental objects can function as navigational beacons, or act as associative or orientation cues. In addition, we argue that extended surfaces or boundaries can act as landmarks by providing a frame of reference for encoding spatial information. The present review provides a concise taxonomy of the use of visual objects as landmarks in navigation and should serve as a useful reference for future research into landmark-based spatial navigation. (shrink)
Three experiments demonstrate that biological movement facilitates young infants’ recognition of the whole human form. A body discrimination task was used in which 6-, 9-, and 12-month-old infants were habituated to typical human bodies and then shown scrambled human bodies at the test. Recovery of interest to the scrambled bodies was observed in 9- and 12-month-old infants in Experiment 1, but only when the body images were animated to move in a biologically possible way. In Experiment 2, nonbiological movement was (...) incorporated into the typical and scrambled body images, but this did not facilitate body recognition in 9- and 12-month-olds. A preferential looking paradigm was used in Experiment 3 to determine if infants had a spontaneous preference for the scrambled versus typical body stimuli when these were both animated. The results showed that 12-month-olds preferred the scrambled body stimuli, 9-month-olds preferred the typical body stimuli and the 6-month-olds showed no preference for either type of body stimuli. These findings suggest that human body recognition involves integrating form and movement, possibly in the superior temporal sulcus, from as early as 9 months of life. (shrink)
Symptoms of essential tremor (ET) are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease (PD) during their initial stages. Presently, there are few stable biomarkers available on a neuroanatomical level for distinguishing between these two diseases. However, few investigations have directly compared the changes in brain volume and assessed the compensatory effects of a change in the parts of the brain associated with PD and with ET. To determine the compensatory and/or degenerative anatomical changes in the brains of PD and ET patients, (...) the present study tested, via two VBM approaches (Basic vs. Dartel VBM processing), the anatomical brain images of 10 PD and 10 ET patients, as well as of 13 age-matched normal controls, obtained through a 3T magnetic resonance scanner. These findings indicate that PD and ET caused specific patterns of brain volume alterations in the brains examined. In addition, our observations also revealed compensatory effects, or self-reorganization, occurring in the thalamus and the MTG in the PD and ET patients, due perhaps in part to the enhanced thalamocortical sensorimotor interaction and the head-eye position readjustment, respectively, in these PD and ET patients. Such a distinction may lend itself to use as a biomarker for differentiating between these two diseases. (shrink)
The study investigates the relative degree and timing of cortical activation across parietal, temporal, and frontal regions during performance of a continuous visual word recognition task in children who experience reading difficulties (N=44, RD) and typical readers (N=40, NI). Minimum norm estimates of regional neurophysiological activity were obtained from magnetoencephalographic recordings. Children with RD showed bilaterally reduced neurophysiological activity in the superior and middle temporal gyri, and increased activity in rostral middle frontal and ventral occipitotemporal cortices, bilaterally. The temporal profile (...) of activity in the RD group, featured near-simultaneous activity peaks in temporal, inferior parietal and prefrontal regions, in contrast to a clear temporal progression of activity among these areas in the NI group. These results replicate and extend previous MEG and fMRI results demonstrating atypical, latency-dependent attributes of the brain circuit involved in word reading in children with reading difficulties. (shrink)
The specificity of neural responses to visual objects is a major topic in visual neuroscience. In humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have identified several regions of the occipital and temporal lobe that appear specific to faces, letter-strings, scenes, or tools. Direct electrophysiological recordings in the visual cortical areas of epileptic patients have largely confirmed this modular organization, using either single-neuron peri-stimulus time-histogram or intracerebral event-related potentials (iERP). In parallel, a new research stream has emerged using high-frequency gamma-band activity (...) (50-150 Hz) (GBR) and low-frequency alpha/beta activity (8-24 Hz) (ABR) to map functional networks in humans. An obvious question is now whether the functional organization of the visual cortex revealed by fMRI, ERP, GBR, and ABR coincide. We used direct intracerebral recordings in 18 epileptic patients to directly compare GBR, ABR, and ERP elicited by the presentation of seven major visual object categories (faces, scenes, houses, consonants, pseudowords, tools, and animals), in relation to previous fMRI studies. Remarkably both GBR and iERP showed strong category-specificity that was in many cases sufficient to infer stimulus object category from the neural response at single-trial level. However, we also found a strong discrepancy between the selectivity of GBR, ABR, and ERP with less than 10% of spatial overlap between sites eliciting the same category-specificity. Overall, we found that selective neural responses to visual objects were broadly distributed in the brain with a prominent spatial cluster located in the posterior temporal cortex. Moreover, the different neural markers (GBR, ABR, and iERP) that elicit selectivity towards specific visual object categories present little spatial overlap suggesting that the information content of each marker can uniquely characterize high-level visual information in the brain. (shrink)
(1) The induced colours led to perceptual grouping and pop-out, (2) a grapheme rendered invisible through ‘crowding’ or lateral masking induced synaesthetic colours — a form of blindsight — and (3) peripherally presented graphemes did not induce colours even when they were clearly visible. Taken collectively, these and other experiments prove conclusively that synaesthesia is a genuine percep- tual phenomenon, not an effect based on memory associations from childhood or on vague metaphorical speech. We identify different subtypes of number–colour synaesthesia (...) and propose that they are caused by hyperconnectivity between col- our and number areas at different stages in processing; lower synaesthetes may have cross-wiring (or cross-activation) within the fusiform gyrus, whereas higher synaesthetes may have cross-activation in the angular gyrus. This hyperconnec- tivity might be caused by a genetic mutation that causes defective pruning of con- nections between brain maps. The mutation may further be expressed selectively (due to transcription factors) in the fusiform or angular gyri, and this may explain the existence of different forms of synaesthesia. If expressed very diffusely, there may be extensive cross-wiring between brain regions that represent abstract concepts, which would explain the link between creativity, metaphor and synaesthesia (and the higher incidence of synaesthesia among artists and poets). Also, hyperconnectivity between the sensory cortex and amygdala would explain the heightened aversion synaesthetes experience when seeing numbers printed in the ‘wrong’ colour. Lastly, kindling (induced hyperconnectivity in the temporal lobes of temporal lobe epilepsy [TLE] patients) may explain the purported higher incidence of synaesthesia in these patients. We conclude with a synaesthesia-based theory. (shrink)
We studied two otherwise normal, synaesthetic subjects who `saw' a speci¢c colour every time they saw a speci¢c number or letter. We conducted four experiments in order to show that this was a genuine perceptual experience rather than merely a memory association. (i)The synaesthetically induced colours could lead to perceptual grouping, even though the inducing numerals or letters did not. (ii)Synaesthetically induced colours were not experienced if the graphemes were presented peripherally. (iii)Roman numerals were ine¡ective: the actual number grapheme was (...) required. (iv)If two graphemes were alternated the induced colours were also seen in alternation. However, colours were no longer experienced if the graphemes were alternated at more than 4 Hz. We propose that grapheme colour synaesthesia arises from `cross-wiring' between the `colour centre' (area V4 or V8)and the `number area', both of which lie in the fusiform gyrus. We also suggest a similar explanation for the representation of metaphors in the brain: hence, the higher incidence of synaesthesia among artists and poets. (shrink)
Summary Ideomotor apraxia is a cognitive disorder in which the patient loses the ability to accurately perform learned, skilled actions. This is despite normal limb power and coordination. It has long been known that left supramarginal gyrus lesions cause bilateral upper limb apraxia and it was proposed that this area stored a visualkinaesthetic image of the skilled action, which was translated elsewhere in the brain into the pre-requisite movement formula. We hypothesise that, rather than these two functions occurring separately, (...) both are complementary functions of chains of ‘‘mirror neurons’’ within the left inferior parietal lobe. We go on to propose that this neural mechanism in the supramarginal gyrus and its projection zones, which originally evolved to allow the creation of a direct map between vision and movement, was subsequently exapted to allow other sorts of cross-domain mapping and in particular those sorts of abstract re-conceptualisation, such as metaphor, that make mankind unique. (shrink)
We criticize the lack of neuroanatomical precision in the Grodzinsky target article. We propose a more precise neuroanatomical characterization of syntactic processing and suggest that syntactic procedures are supported by the left frontal operculum in addition to the anterior part of the superior temporal gyrus, which appears to be associated with syntactic knowledge representation.
Anatomo-functional studies in humans point out that handedness and language-related functional laterality are not correlated – except during language production; and that the convergence of language and hand control is located in the precentral gyrus, whereas executive functions required by movement imitation and phonological and semantic processing converge onto Broca's area. Multiple domains are likely to be actors in language evolution. Footnotes1 Nathalie Tzourio-Mazoyer is the corresponding author for this commentary.
A single case study of a patient, D.M., with a lesion in the region of the right occipito-temporal gyrus is presented. D.M. had well-preserved language and general cognitive abilities. Colour discrimination, contrast sensitivity, gross depth perception, spatial localization, and motion appreciation were within normal limits.On the evaluation of perceptual abilities, he failed to identify two-dimensional shapes from stereoscopic vision, motion, and texture although in all cases (...) he was able to identify the rough area subtended by the shape. These findings are considered in relation to the current anatomical-physiological functional models of vision and it is suggested that D.M.'s deficits provide evidence for the existence in man of a functional pathway involved in the computation of texture and fine aspects of shape, which is distinct from the pathways involved in motion and stereopsis processing on one hand and colour and coarse aspects of form on the other hand. (shrink)
ai Diminished gaze fixation is one of the core features of autism and has been proposed to be associated with abnormalities in the neural circuitry of affect. We tested this hypothesis in two separate studies using eye tracking while measuring functional brain activity during facial discrimination tasks in individuals with autism and in typically developing individuals. Activation in the fusiform gyrus and amygdala was strongly and positively correlated with the time spent fixating the eyes in the autistic group in (...) both studies, suggesting that diminished gaze fixation may account for the fusiform hypoactivation to faces commonly reported in autism. In addition, variation in eye fixation within autistic individuals was strongly and positively associated with amygdala activation across both studies, suggesting a heightened emotional response associated with gaze fixation in autism. (shrink)
Previous studies have demonstrated disruption in structural and functional connectivity occurring in the Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). However, it is not known how these disruptions alter brain network reorganization. With the modular analysis method of graph theory, and datasets acquired by the resting-state functional connectivity MRI (R-fMRI) method, we investigated and compared the brain organization patterns between the AD group and the cognitively normal control (CN) group. Our main finding is that the largest homotopic module (defined as the insula module) in (...) the CN group was broken down to the pieces in the AD group. Specifically, it was discovered that the eight pairs of the bilateral regions (the opercular part of inferior frontal gyrus, area triangularis, insula, putamen, globus pallidus, transverse temporal gyri, superior temporal gyrus, and superior temporal pole) of the insula module had lost symmetric functional connection properties, and the corresponding gray matter concentration (GMC) was significant lower in AD group. We further quantified the functional connectivity changes with an index (index A) and structural changes with the GMC index in the insula module to demonstrate their great potential as AD biomarkers. We further validated these results with six additional independent datasets (271 subjects in six groups). Our results demonstrated specific underlying structural and functional reorganization from young to old, and for diseased subjects. Further, it is suggested that by combining the structural GMC analysis and functional modular analysis in the insula module, a new biomarker can be developed at the single-subject level. (shrink)
Somatoform disorder patients show a variety of emotional disturbances including impaired emotion recognition and increased empathic distress. In a previous paper, our group showed that several brain regions involved in emotional processing, such as the parahippocampal gyrus and other regions, were less activated in pre-treatment somatoform disorder patients (compared to healthy controls) during an empathy task. Since the parahippocampal gyrus is involved in emotional memory, its decreased activation might reflect the repression of emotional memories (which - according to (...) psychoanalytical concepts - plays an important role in somatoform disorder). Psychodynamic psychotherapy aims at increasing the understanding of emotional conflicts as well as uncovering repressed emotions. We were interested, whether brain activity in the parahippocampal gyrus normalized after (inpatient) multimodal psychodynamic psychotherapy. Using fMRI, subjects were scanned while they shared the emotional states of presented facial stimuli expressing anger, disgust, joy and a neutral expression; distorted stimuli with unrecognizable content served as control condition. 15 somatoform disorder patients were scanned twice, pre and post multimodal psychodynamic psychotherapy; in addition, 15 age-matched healthy control subjects were investigated. Effects of psychotherapy on hemodynamic responses were analyzed implementing two approaches: (i) an a priori region of interest approach and (ii) a voxelwise whole brain analysis. Both analyses revealed increased hemodynamic responses in the left and right parahippocampal gyrus (and other regions) after multimodal psychotherapy in the contrast ‘empathy with anger’-‘control’. Our results are in line with psychoanalytical concepts about somatoform disorder. They suggest the parahippocampal gyrus is crucially involved in the neurobiological mechanisms which underly the emotional deficits of somatoform disorder patients. (shrink)
Higher order sensory processing follows a general subdivision into a ventral and a dorsal stream for visual, auditory, and tactile information. Object identification is processed in temporal structures (ventral stream), whereas object localization leads to activation of parietal structures (dorsal stream). To examine whether the chemical senses demonstrate a similar dissociation, we investigated odor identification and odor localization in 16 healthy young subjects using functional MRI. We used two odors (1. eucalyptol; 2. a mixture of phenylethanol and carbon dioxide) which (...) were delivered to only one nostril. During odor identification subjects had to recognize the odor; during odor localisation they had to detect the stimulated nostril. We used General Linear Model (GLM) as a classical method as well as Independent Component Analysis (ICA) in order to investigate a possible neuroanatomical dissociation between both tasks. Both methods showed differences between tasks - confirming a dual processing stream in the chemical senses - but revealed complementary results. Specifically, GLM identified the left intraparietal sulcus and the right superior frontal sulcus to be more activated when subjects were localising the odorants. For the same task, ICA identified a significant cluster in the left parietal lobe (paracentral lobule) but also in the right hippocampus. While GLM did not find significant activations for odor identification, ICA revealed two clusters (in the left central fissure and the left superior frontal gyrus) for this task. These data demonstrate that higher order chemosensory processing shares the general subdivision into a ventral and a dorsal processing stream with other sensory systems and suggest that this is a global principle, independent of sensory channels. (shrink)
The mismatch negativity (MMN), an event-related potential (ERP) representing the violation of an acoustic regularity, is considered as a pre-attentive change detection mechanism at the sensory level on the one hand and as a prediction error signal on the other hand, suggesting that bottom-up as well as top-down processes are involved in its generation. Rhythmic and melodic deviations within a musical sequence elicit a mismatch negativity in musically trained subjects, indicating that acquired musical expertise leads to better discrimination accuracy of (...) musical material and better predictions about upcoming musical events. Expectation violations to musical material could therefore recruit neural generators that reflect top-down processes that are based on musical knowledge. We describe the neural generators of the musical MMN for rhythmic and melodic material after a short-term sensorimotor-auditory training. We compare the localization of musical MMN data from two previous MEG studies by applying beamformer analysis. One study focused on the melodic harmonic progression whereas the other study focused on rhythmic progression. The MMN to melodic deviations revealed significant right hemispheric neural activation in the superior temporal gyrus (STG), inferior frontal cortex (IFC), and the superior frontal (SFG) and orbitofrontal (OFG) gyri. IFC and SFG activation was also observed in the left hemisphere. In contrast, beamformer analysis of the data from the rhythm study revealed bilatral activation within the vicinity of auditory cortices and in the inferior parietal lobule, an area that has recently been implied in temporal processing. We conclude that different cortical networks are activated in the analysis of the temporal and the melodic content of musical material, and discuss these networks in the context of the the dual-pathway model of auditory processing. (shrink)
The neural structures implicated in crying are reviewed, based on studies in animals. Brain regions involved include the anterior cingulate gyrus (a cortical structure), amygdala, thalamic tegmentum, periaqueductal gray of the midbrain, and the nucleus ambiguus of the caudal brainstem. It is hypothesized that the crying associated with colic may be a manifestation of differing developmental stages in the brain circuits involved.
With the advent and development of modern neuroimaging techniques, there is an increasing interest in linking extraversion and neuroticism to anatomical and functional brain markers. Here we aimed to test the theoretically derived biological personality model as proposed by Eysenck using graph theoretical analyses. Specifically, the association between the topological organization of whole-brain functional networks and extraversion/neuroticism was explored. To construct functional brain networks, functional connectivity among 90 brain regions was measured by temporal correlation using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (...) (fMRI) data of 71 healthy subjects. Graph theoretical analysis revealed a positive association of extraversion scores and normalized clustering coefficient values. These results suggested a more clustered configuration in brain networks of individuals high in extraversion, which could imply a higher arousal threshold and higher levels of arousal tolerance in the cortex of extraverts. On a local network level, we observed that a specific nodal measure, i.e. betweenness centrality (BC), was positively associated with neuroticism scores in the right precentral gyrus, right caudate nucleus, right olfactory cortex and bilateral amygdala. For individuals high in neuroticism, these results suggested a more frequent participation of these specific regions in information transition within the brain network and, in turn, may partly explain greater regional activation levels and lower arousal thresholds in these regions. In contrast, extraversion scores were positively correlated with BC in the right insula, while negatively correlated with BC in the bilateral middle temporal gyrus, indicating that the relationship between extraversion and regional arousal is not as simple as proposed by Eysenck. (shrink)
When engaging in joint attention, one person directs another person’s attention to an object (Initiating Joint Attention, IJA), and the second person’s attention follows (Responding to Joint Attention, RJA). As such, joint attention must occur within the context of a social interaction. This ability is critical to language and social development; yet the neural bases for this pivotal skill remain understudied. This paucity of research is likely due to the challenge in acquiring functional MRI data during a naturalistic, contingent social (...) interaction. To examine the neural bases of both IJA and RJA we implemented a dual-video set-up that allowed for a face-to-face interaction between subject and experimenter via video during fMRI data collection. In each trial, participants either followed the experimenter’s gaze to a target (RJA) or cued the experimenter to look at the target (IJA). A control condition, solo attention (SA), was included in which the subject shifted gaze to a target while the experimenter closed her eyes. Block and event-related analyses were conducted and revealed common and distinct regions for IJA and RJA. Distinct regions included the ventromedial prefrontal cortex for RJA and intraparietal sulcus and middle frontal gyrus for IJA (as compared to SA). Conjunction analyses revealed overlap in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dMPFC) and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) for IJA and RJA (as compared to SA) for the event analyses. Functional connectivity analyses during a resting baseline suggest joint attention processes recruit distinct but interacting networks, including social-cognitive, voluntary attention orienting, and visual networks. This novel experimental set-up allowed for the identification of the neural bases of joint attention during a real-time interaction and findings suggest that whether one is the initiator or responder, the dMPFC and right pSTS, are selectively recruited during periods of joint attention. (shrink)