The present study examined the cognitive profile of fallers relative to
healthy controls and patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a
positive control group, using a computerized battery. Fallers performed more
poorly than controls on executive function, attention, and motor skills, but
performed comparably on memory, information processing and the Mini Mental State
Exam. A similar profile was evident for PD patients. However, unlike PD
patients, fallers were abnormally inconsistent in their reaction times. These
findings indicate that elderly fallers may have a unique cognitive processing
deficit (i.e., variability of response timing) and underscore the importance of
executive function and attention as potential targets for fall risk screening
cognitive function; aging; executive function; falls
To what extent does our visual-spatial attention change with age? In this regard, it has been previously reported that relative to young controls, seniors show delays in attention-related sensory facilitation. Given this finding, our study was designed to examine two key questions regarding age-related changes in the effect of spatial attention on sensory-evoked responses in visual cortex –– are there visual field differences in the age-related impairments in sensory processing, and do these impairments co-occur with changes in the executive control signals associated with visual spatial orienting? Therefore, our study examined both attentional control and attentional facilitation in seniors (aged 66 to 74 years) and young adults (aged 18 to 25 years) using a canonical spatial orienting task. Participants responded to attended and unattended peripheral targets while we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to both targets and attention-directing spatial cues. We found that not only were sensory-evoked responses delayed in seniors specifically for unattended events in the left visual field as measured via latency shifts in the lateral occipital P1 elicited by visual targets, but seniors also showed amplitude reductions in the anterior directing attentional negativity (ADAN) component elicited by cues directing attention to the left visual field. At the same time, seniors also had significantly higher error rates for targets presented in the left vs. right visual field. Taken together, our data thus converge on the conclusion that age-related changes in visual spatial attention involve both sensory-level and executive attentional control processes, and that these effects appear to be strongly associated with the left visual field.
PMID: 21356222 CAMSID: cams2320
Aging; Visual-spatial attention; Attentional control; Event-related potentials
Spatial attention enables us to enhance the processing of items at target locations, at the expense of items presented at irrelevant locations. Many studies have explored the neural correlates of these spatial biases using event-related potentials (ERPs). More recently some studies have shown that these ERP correlates are also present when subjects search visual short-term memory (VSTM). This suggests firstly that this type of mental representation retains a spatial organization that is based upon that of the original percept, and secondly that these attentional biases are flexible and can act to modulate remembered as well as perceptual representations. We aimed to test whether it was necessary for subjects to have actually seen the memoranda at those spatial locations, or whether simply imagining the spatial layout was sufficient to elicit the spatial attention effects. On some trials subjects performed a “visual” search of an array held in VSTM, and upon other trials subjects imagined the items at those spatial locations. We found ERP markers of spatial attention in both the memory-search and the imagery-search conditions. However, there were differences between the conditions, the effect in the memory-search began earlier and included posterior electrode sites. By contrast the ERP effect in the imagery-search condition was apparent only over fronto-central electrode sites and emerged slightly later. Nonetheless, our data demonstrate that it is not necessary for subjects to have ever seen the items at spatial locations for neural markers of spatial attention to be elicited; searching an imaginary spatial layout also triggers spatially-specific attention effects in the ERP data.
attention; ERPs; visual short-term memory; visual working memory; mental imagery
The present study based on a nationally representative sample of older adults living in the Andes mountains and coastal region of the country indicates that 34.7% of older adults had fallen in the previous year in Ecuador. Among fallers, 30.6% reported a fall-related injury. The prevalence of falls was higher in women and among older adults residing in the rural Andes mountains. In the multivariate model, women, subjects with cognitive impairment, those reporting urinary incontinence, and those being physically active during the previous year were variables found independently associated with increased risk of falling among older adults in Ecuador. Moreover, a gradual and linear increase in the prevalence of falls was seen as the number of risk factors increased. Falls represent a major public health problem among older adults in Ecuador. The present findings may assist public health authorities to implement programs of awareness and fall prevention among older adults at higher risk of falls.
Purpose: We investigated deficits in postural control and fall risk in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Method: Twenty people with moderate to severe COPD (mean age 72.3 years, standard deviation [SD] 6.7 years) with a mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) of 46.7% (SD 13%) and 20 people (mean age 68.2 years, SD 8.1) who served as a comparison group were tested for postural control using the Sensory Organization Test (SOT). A score of zero in any trial of the SOT was registered as a fall. On the basis of the SOT results, participants were categorized as frequent fallers (two or more falls) or as fallers (one fall). To explore the potential influence of muscle weakness on postural control, knee extensors concentric muscle torque was assessed with an isokinetic dynamometer. Physical activity level was assessed with the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly.
Results: People with COPD showed a 10.8% lower score on the SOT (p=0.016) and experienced more falls (40) than the comparison group (12). The proportion of frequent fallers and fallers during the SOT was greater (p=0.021) in the COPD group (four of 10) than in the comparison group (two of seven). People with COPD showed deficits in knee extensors muscle strength (p=0.01) and a modest trend toward reduced physical activity level. However, neither of these factors explained the deficits in postural control observed in the COPD group.
Conclusions: People with COPD show deficits in postural control and increased risk of falls as measured by the SOT. The deficits in postural control appear to be independent of muscle weakness and level of physical activity. Postural control interventions and fall risk strategies in the pulmonary rehabilitation of COPD are recommended.
falls, accidental; muscle strength; balance, postural; proprioception; pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; appareil vestibulaire; balancement postural; équilibre postural; force musculaire; maladie respiratoire; proprioception
Executive dysfunction has previously been found to be a risk factor for falls. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between executive dysfunction and risk of falling and to determine if this association is independent of balance.
Participants were 188 community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older. All participants underwent baseline and annual evaluations with review of health history, standardized neurologic examination, neuropsychological testing, and qualitative and quantitative assessment of motor function. Falls were recorded prospectively using weekly online health forms.
During 13 months of follow-up, there were 65 of 188 participants (34.6%) who reported at least one fall. Univariate analysis showed that fallers were more likely to have lower baseline scores in executive function than non-fallers (p = 0.03). Among participants without balance impairment we found that higher executive function z-scores were associated with lower fall counts (p = 0.03) after adjustment for age, sex, health status and prior history of falls using negative binomial regression models. This relationship was not present among participants with poor balance.
Lower scores on executive function tests are a risk factor for falls in participants with minimal balance impairment. However, this effect is attenuated in individuals with poor balance where physical or more direct motor systems factors may play a greater role in fall risk.
It is currently unclear whether the function of brain regions associated with executive cognitive processing are independently associated with reduced physiological falls risk. If these are related, it would suggest that the development of interventions targeted at improving executive neurocognitive function would be an effective new approach for reducing physiological falls risk in seniors.
We performed a secondary analysis of 73 community-dwelling senior women aged 65 to 75 years old who participated in a 12-month randomized controlled trial of resistance training. Functional MRI data were acquired while participants performed a modified Eriksen Flanker Task - a task of selective attention and conflict resolution. Brain volumes were obtained using MRI. Falls risk was assessed using the Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA).
After accounting for baseline age, experimental group, baseline PPA score, and total baseline white matter brain volume, baseline activation in the left frontal orbital cortex extending towards the insula was negatively associated with reduced physiological falls risk over the 12-month period. In contrast, baseline activation in the paracingulate gyrus extending towards the anterior cingulate gyrus was positively associated with reduced physiological falls risk.
Baseline activation levels of brain regions underlying response inhibition and selective attention were independently associated with reduced physiological falls risk. This suggests that falls prevention strategies may be facilitated by incorporating intervention components - such as aerobic exercise - that are specifically designed to induce neurocognitive plasticity.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00426881
Older adults with cognitive problems have a higher risk of falls, at least twice that of cognitively normal older adults. The consequences of falls in this population are very serious: fallers with cognitive problems suffer more injuries due to falls and are approximately five times more likely to be admitted to institutional care. Although the mechanisms of increased fall risk in cognitively impaired people are not completely understood, it is known that impaired cognitive abilities can reduce attentional resource allocation while walking. Since cognitive enhancers, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, improve attention and executive function, we hypothesise that cognitive enhancers may reduce fall risk in elderly people in the early stages of cognitive decline by improving their gait and balance performance due to an enhancement in attention and executive function.
Double blinded randomized controlled trial with 6 months follow-up in 140 older individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Participants will be randomized to the intervention group, receiving donepezil, and to the control group, receiving placebo. A block randomization by four and stratification based on fall history will be performed. Primary outcomes are improvements in gait velocity and reduction in gait variability. Secondary outcomes are changes in the balance confidence, balance sway, attention, executive function, and number of falls.
By characterizing and understanding the effects of cognitive enhancers on fall risk in older adults with cognitive impairments, we will be able to pave the way for a new approach to fall prevention in this population. This RCT study will provide, for the first time, information regarding the effect of a medication designed to augment cognitive functioning have on the risk of falls in older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. We expect a significant reduction in the risk of falls in this vulnerable population as a function of the reduced gait variability achieved by treatment with cognitive enhancers. This study may contribute to a new approach to prevent and treat fall risk in seniors in early stages of dementia.
The protocol for this study is registered with the Clinical Trials Registry, identifier number: NCT00934531 http://www.clinicaltrials.gov
Schizophrenia is associated with perceptual and cognitive dysfunction including impairments in visual attention. These impairments may be related to deficits in early stages of sensory/perceptual processing, particularly within the magnocellular/dorsal visual pathway. In the present study, subjects viewed high and low spatial frequency (SF) gratings designed to test functioning of the parvocellular/magnocellular pathways, respectively. Schizophrenia patients and healthy controls attended to either the low SF (magnocellularly biased) or high SF (parvocellularly biased) gratings. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and recordings of event-related potentials (ERPs) were carried out during task performance. Patients were impaired at detecting low-frequency targets. ERP amplitudes to low-frequency gratings were diminished, both for the early sensory-evoked components and for the attend minus unattend difference component (the selection negativity), which is regarded as a neural index of feature-selective attention. Similarly, fMRI revealed that activity in extrastriate visual cortex was reduced in patients during attention to low, but not high, SF. In contrast, activity in frontal and parietal areas, previously implicated in the control of attention, did not differ between patients and controls. These findings suggest that impaired sensory processing of magnocellularly biased stimuli lead to impairments in the effective processing of attended stimuli, even when the attention control systems themselves are intact.
attention; ERP; fMRI; magnocellular; schizophrenia
Theories on visual change detection imply that attention is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for aware perception. Misguidance of attention due to salient irrelevant distractors can therefore lead to severe deficits in change detection. The present study investigates the mechanisms behind such perceptual errors and their relation to error processing on higher cognitive levels. Participants had to detect a luminance change that occasionally occurred simultaneously with an irrelevant orientation change in the opposite hemi-field (conflict condition). By analyzing event-related potentials in the EEG separately in those error prone conflict trials for correct and erroneous change detection, we demonstrate that only correct change detection was associated with the allocation of attention to the relevant luminance change. Erroneous change detection was associated with an initial capture of attention toward the irrelevant orientation change in the N1 time window and a lack of subsequent target selection processes (N2pc). Errors were additionally accompanied by an increase of the fronto-central N2 and a kind of error negativity (Ne or ERN), which, however, peaked prior to the response. These results suggest that a strong perceptual conflict by salient distractors can disrupt the further processing of relevant information and thus affect its aware perception. Yet, it does not impair higher cognitive processes for conflict and error detection, indicating that these processes are independent from awareness.
attention; awareness; N2pc; error negativity
People with Parkinson's disease are twice as likely to be recurrent fallers compared to other older people. As these falls have devastating consequences, there is an urgent need to identify and test innovative interventions with the potential to reduce falls in people with Parkinson's disease. The main objective of this randomised controlled trial is to determine whether fall rates can be reduced in people with Parkinson's disease using exercise targeting three potentially remediable risk factors for falls (reduced balance, reduced leg muscle strength and freezing of gait). In addition we will establish the cost effectiveness of the exercise program from the health provider's perspective.
230 community-dwelling participants with idiopathic Parkinson's disease will be recruited. Eligible participants will also have a history of falls or be identified as being at risk of falls on assessment. Participants will be randomly allocated to a usual-care control group or an intervention group which will undertake weight-bearing balance and strengthening exercises and use cueing strategies to address freezing of gait. The intervention group will choose between the home-based or support group-based mode of the program. Participants in both groups will receive standardized falls prevention advice. The primary outcome measure will be fall rates. Participants will record falls and medical interventions in a diary for the duration of the 6-month intervention period. Secondary measures include the Parkinson's Disease Falls Risk Score, maximal leg muscle strength, standing balance, the Short Physical Performance Battery, freezing of gait, health and well being, habitual physical activity and positive and negative affect schedule.
No adequately powered studies have investigated exercise interventions aimed at reducing falls in people with Parkinson's disease. This trial will determine the effectiveness of the exercise intervention in reducing falls and its cost effectiveness. This pragmatic program, if found to be effective, has the potential to be implemented within existing community services.
The protocol for this study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12608000303347).
Falling accounts for a significant number of hospital and long-term care admissions in older adults. Many adults with the combination of advancing age and functional decline associated with lower extremity osteoarthritis (OA), are at an even greater risk. The purpose of this study was to describe fall and near-fall history, location, circumstances and injuries from falls in a community-dwelling population of adults over aged 65 with hip OA and to determine the ability of the timed up and go test (TUG) to classify fallers and near-fallers.
A retrospective observational study of 106 older men and women with hip pain for six months or longer, meeting a clinical criteria for the presence of hip OA at one or both hips. An interview for fall and near-fall history and administration of the TUG were administered on one occasion.
Forty-five percent of the sample had at least one fall in the past year, seventy-seven percent reported occasional or frequent near-falls. The majority of falls occurred during ambulation and ascending or descending steps. Forty percent experienced an injury from the fall. The TUG was not associated with history of falls, but was associated with near-falls. Higher TUG scores occurred for those who were older, less mobile, and with greater number of co-morbidities.
A high percentage of older adults with hip OA experience falls and near-falls which may be attributed to gait impairments related to hip OA. The TUG could be a useful screening instrument to predict those who have frequent near-falls, and thus might be useful in predicting risk of future falls in this population.
To investigate incidence, risk factors and impact of falls on health related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Observational cohort study
Patients completed these questionnaires at baseline and at 6-months: Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36), Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ), Activities Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale and a form to record demographic data, medications, co-morbidities, oxygen use, acute exacerbations, fall history and assistive device use. Physical activity was measured with the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) only at baseline. Fall incidence was monitored through monthly fall diaries. Patients were categorized as non-fallers (0 falls) or fallers (≥1 falls).
Data from 101 patients with a forced expiratory volume in one second of 46.4±21.6% predicted were analyzed. Thirty-two patients (31.7%) reported at least one fall during the 6-months. Fall incidence rate was 0.1 (95% CI:0.06 to 0.14) falls per person-month. Fallers tended to be older (p=0.04), female (p=0.04) and oxygen dependent (p=0.02), have a history of previous falls (p<0.001), more co-morbidities (p=0.007) and take more medications (p=0.001). Previous falls (OR=7.36; 95% CI:2.39 to 22.69) and diagnosis of coronary heart disease (OR=7.07; 95% CI:2.14 to 23.36) were the most important predictors of falls. The Dyspnea Domain of the CRQ declined significantly more (p=0.02) in the fallers group at 6-months.
Patients with COPD have a high susceptibility to falls, which is associated with a worsening of dyspnea perception as related to HRQoL. Fall prevention programs in COPD are recommended.
PMID: 20869227 CAMSID: cams2186
To evaluate the underlying mechanisms of cognitive decline in multiple sclerosis, two clinically and demographically matched multiple sclerosis groups differing in cognitive status were assessed with attention related tasks. In addition to the attention tests recommended by the Cognitive Function Study Group of the American National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a test of sustained attention was used to evaluate the role of possible fatigue on cognitive performance. The cognitively mildly deteriorated group was slower than the cognitively preserved group and the controls on all tests of attention. The mildly deteriorated group did not, however, consistently differ from the other groups in the error scores of the attention tests. The preserved group exhibited slowness at the end of the visual vigilance test, but no deficits were found on the other attention related tests in this group. It is suggested that dissociable kinds of processing slowness are the origin of the deficits found on the attention tests in the two multiple sclerosis groups. Our preserved group exhibited signs of motor and fatigue related slowness, whereas the mildly deteriorated group also had extensive cognitive slowness. As sensitive indicators of cognitive slowness, attentional tests should be included in evaluation of the cognitive status of patients with multiple sclerosis.
We sought to define the frequency of falls in early PD and assess potential risk factors for falls in this population.
We analyzed the data from two randomized, placebo controlled trials (NET-PD FS1 and FS-TOO) of 413 individuals with early PD over 18 months of follow-up in FS1 and 12 months in FS-TOO. Falls were defined as any report of falls on the UPDRS or the adverse event log. We assessed the frequency of falls overall and by age. The relationship between prespecified fall risk markers and the probability of falling was assessed using logistic and multiple logistic regression. A hurdle Poisson model was used to jointly model the probability of remaining fall-free and the number of falls.
During the follow-up period, 23% of participants fell, and 11% were habitual fallers. In a multiple logistic regression model, age, baseline UPDRS Falling score, and baseline PDQ-39 scores were associated with subsequent fall risk (P <0.001). Similarly, in a hurdle Poisson regression model, age, baseline UPDRS falling item, and baseline PDQ-39 were all significantly related to the probability of falling, but only UPDRS falling >0 was associated with the number of falls.
Falls are frequent and are associated with impaired quality of life, even in early PD. Current standard rating scales do not sufficiently explain future fall risk in the absence of a prior fall history. New assessment methods for falls and postural instability are required to better evaluate this important problem in clinical trials and clinical practice.
Falls; Parkinson’s disease
Background. Falls and fractures in the elderly are among the leading causes of disability. We investigated whether pacemaker implantation prevents falls in patients with SND in a large cohort of patients. Methods. Patient demographics and medical history were collected prospectively. Fall history was retrospectively reconstituted from available medical records. The 10-year probability for major osteoporotic fractures was calculated retrospectively from available medical records using the Swiss fracture risk assessment tool FRAX-Switzerland. Results. During a mean observation period of 2.3 years after implantation, the rates of fallers and injured fallers with fracture were reduced to 15% and 6%, respectively. This corresponds to a relative reduction in the number of fallers of 75% (P < 0.001) and of injured fallers of 63% (P = 0.014) after pacemaker implantation. Similarly, the number of falls was reduced from 60 (48%) before pacemaker implantation to 22 (18%) thereafter (relative reduction 63%, P = 0.035) and the number of falls with injury from 22 (18%) to 7 (6%), which corresponds to a relative reduction of 67%, P = 0.013. Conclusion. In patients with SND, pacemaker implantation significantly reduces the number of patients experiencing falls, the total number of falls, and the risk for osteoporotic fractures.
Successful mobility requires appropriate decision-making. Seniors with reduced executive functioning— such as senior fallers—may be prone to poor mobility judgments, especially under dual-task conditions. We classified participants as “At-Risk” and “Not-At-Risk” for falls using a validated physiological falls-risk assessment. Dual-task performance was assessed in a virtual reality environment where participants crossed a simulated street by walking on a manual treadmill while listening to music or conversing on a phone. Those “At-Risk” experienced more collisions with oncoming cars and had longer crossing times in the Phone condition compared to controls. We conclude that poor mobility judgments during a dual-task leads to unsafe mobility for those at-risk for falls.
aging; cognitive load; falls risk; dual-task
Several major cognitive neuroscience models have posited that focal spatial attention is required to integrate different features of an object to form a coherent perception of it within a complex visual scene. Although many behavioral studies have supported this view, some have suggested that complex perceptual discrimination can be performed even with substantially reduced focal spatial attention, calling into question the complexity of object representation that can be achieved without focused spatial attention. In the present study, we took a cognitive neuroscience approach to this problem by recording cognition-related brain activity both to help resolve the questions about the role of focal spatial attention in object-categorization processes and to investigate the underlying neural mechanisms, focusing particularly on the temporal cascade of these attentional and perceptual processes in visual cortex. More specifically, we recorded electrical brain activity in humans engaged in a specially designed cued-visual-search paradigm to probe the object-related visual processing before and during the transition from distributed to focal spatial attention. The onset times of the color-popout cueing information, indicating where within an object array the subject was to shift attention, was parametrically varied relative to the presentation of the array (i.e., either occurring simultaneously or being delayed by 50 or 100 ms). The electrophysiological results demonstrate that some level of object-specific representation can be formed in parallel for multiple items across the visual field under spatially distributed attention, before focal spatial attention is allocated to any of them. The object-discrimination process appears to be subsequently amplified as soon as focal spatial attention is directed to a specific location and object. This set of novel neurophysiological findings thus provides important new insights on fundamental issues that have been long-debated in cognitive neuroscience concerning both object-related processing and the role of attention.
Most people with Parkinson's disease (PD) fall and many experience recurrent falls. The aim of this review was to examine the scope of recurrent falls and to identify factors associated with recurrent fallers. A database search for journal articles which reported prospectively collected information concerning recurrent falls in people with PD identified 22 studies. In these studies, 60.5% (range 35 to 90%) of participants reported at least one fall, with 39% (range 18 to 65%) reporting recurrent falls. Recurrent fallers reported an average of 4.7 to 67.6 falls per person per year (overall average 20.8 falls). Factors associated with recurrent falls include: a positive fall history, increased disease severity and duration, increased motor impairment, treatment with dopamine agonists, increased levodopa dosage, cognitive impairment, fear of falling, freezing of gait, impaired mobility and reduced physical activity. The wide range in the frequency of recurrent falls experienced by people with PD suggests that it would be beneficial to classify recurrent fallers into sub-groups based on fall frequency. Given that there are several factors particularly associated with recurrent falls, fall management and prevention strategies specifically targeting recurrent fallers require urgent evaluation in order to inform clinical practice.
Stroke victims are at relatively high risk for injurious falls. The purpose of this study was to document longitudinal fall patterns following inpatient rehabilitation for first-time stroke survivors.
Participants (n = 231) were recruited at the end of their rehab stay and interviewed monthly via telephone for 1 to 32 months regarding fall incidents. Analyses were conducted on: total reports of falls by month over time for first-time and repeat fallers, the incidence of falling in any given month; and factors differing between fallers and non fallers.
The largest percentage of participants (14%) reported falling in the first month post-discharge. After month five, less than 10% of the sample reported falling, bar months 15 (10.4%) and 23 (13.2%). From months one to nine, the percentage of those reporting one fall with and without a prior fall were similar. After month nine, the number of individuals who reported a single fall with a fall history was twice as high compared to those without a prior fall who reported falling. In both cases the percentages were small. A very small subset of the population emerged who fell multiple times each month, most of whom had a prior fall history. At least a third of the sample reported a loss of balance each month. Few factors differed significantly between fallers and non-fallers in months one to six.
Longitudinal data suggest that falls most likely linked to first time strokes occur in the first six months post discharge, particularly month one. Data routinely available at discharge does not distinguish fallers from non-fallers. Once a fall incident has occurred however, preventive intervention is warranted.
Infantile nephropathic cystinosis is associated with a specific cognitive deficit in visual spatial processing in older children and adults. The cause of this deficit is unknown. This study was designed to determine whether the cognitive deficit is present in young children with cystinosis, suggesting an early effect of the genetic disorder on brain development.
Study design Young children (n=25; ages 3− 8 years) with cystinosis, and 25 matched controls, underwent cognitive testing including tests of intelligence, visual perceptual, visual spatial, and visual motor functions.
Children with cystinosis performed significantly more poorly on tests of visual spatial and visual motor function than did controls. Visual perceptual abilities were equivalent in the two groups.
The fact that the same pattern of visual spatial deficit is present in very young children with cystinosis as has previously been demonstrated in older children and adults suggests that there may be an influence of the cystinosis gene on brain development, rather than an adverse effect of prolonged cystine accumulation in the brain during childhood.
visual perception; visual spatial; cystinosis
Individuals who have sustained a mild brain injury (e.g., mild traumatic brain injury or mild cerebrovascular stroke) are at risk to show persistent cognitive symptoms (attention and memory) after the acute postinjury phase. Although studies have shown that those patients perform normally on neuropsychological tests, cognitive symptoms remain present, and there is a need for more precise diagnostic tools. The aim of this study was to develop precise and sensitive markers for the diagnosis of post brain injury deficits in visual and attentional functions which could be easily translated in a clinical setting. Using electrophysiology, we have developed a task that allows the tracking of the processes involved in the deployment of visual spatial attention from early stages of visual treatment (N1, P1, N2, and P2) to higher levels of cognitive processing (no-go N2, P3a, P3b, N2pc, SPCN). This study presents a description of this protocol and its validation in 19 normal participants. Results indicated the statistically significant presence of all ERPs aimed to be elicited by this novel task. This task could allow clinicians to track the recovery of the mechanisms involved in the deployment of visual-attentional processing, contributing to better diagnosis and treatment management for persons who suffer a brain injury.
The effectiveness of vitamin D in reducing falls among long-term care (LTC) seniors remains nonconclusive. We reviewed how vitamin D dosing regimen could affect rate of fall and number of fallers among LTC seniors.
We conducted a systematic literature review. Studies were selected by two independent reviewers based on study characteristics (age 75 or older), quality assessment (primary analysis randomized controlled trials), and outcome (rate of fall and number of fallers). Analyses of all trials following trials using daily standard dosage (800–1000 IU) only were performed to compare daily standard dosage with intermittent supratherapeutic dosage in fall prevention.
Seventy-nine studies were identified, with 28 selected by reviewers (kappa 0.98), and four RCT were conducted in LTC. Daily standard dosage provides greater reduction in rate of fall by 16%, which was statistically significant. However, reduction in number of fallers remained statistically insignificant even taking dosing regimen into account.
Daily standard dosage of vitamin D has greater benefits in reducing fall rate than that of intermittent supratherapeutic doses, but not in number of fallers. This could imply that vitamin D is useful in preventing fall recurrence rather than first fall. Prospective studies randomizing LTC seniors to different dosing regimens are warranted.
long-term care; elderly; vitamin D; falls
Much work in the cognitive neuroscience of schizophrenia has focused on attention, memory, and executive functioning. To date, less work has focused on perceptual processing. However, perceptual functions are frequently disrupted in schizophrenia, and thus this domain has been included in the CNTRICS (Cognitive Neuroscience Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia) project. In this article, we describe the basic science presentation and the breakout group discussion on the topic of perception from the first CNTRICS meeting, held in Bethesda, Maryland on February 26 and 27, 2007. The importance of perceptual dysfunction in schizophrenia, the nature of perceptual abnormalities in this disorder, and the critical need to develop perceptual tests appropriate for future clinical trials were discussed. Although deficits are also seen in auditory, olfactory, and somatosensory processing in schizophrenia, the first CNTRICS meeting focused on visual processing deficits. Key concepts of gain control and integration in visual perception were introduced. Definitions and examples of these concepts are provided in this article. Use of visual gain control and integration fit a number of the criteria suggested by the CNTRICS committee, provide fundamental constructs for understanding the visual system in schizophrenia, and are inclusive of both lower-level and higher-level perceptual deficits.
Contrast; form; gain control; magnocellular; motion; visual integration
Heavy prenatal alcohol exposure leads to widespread cognitive deficits, including problems with spatial working memory (SWM). Neuroimaging studies report structural and functional abnormalities in FASD, but interpretations may be complicated by the co-occurrence of a family history of alcoholism. Since, this history is also linked to cognitive deficits and brain abnormalities, it is difficult to determine the extent to which deficits are unique to prenatal alcohol exposure.
Age-matched subjects selected from two neuroimaging studies, underwent functional imaging while engaging in a task assessing memory for spatial locations relative to a vigilance condition assessing attention. Pairwise comparisons were made for the following three groups: children with histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure (ALC, n=18); those with no prenatal alcohol exposure, but a confirmed family history of alcoholism (FHP, n=18); and non-exposed, family history negative controls (CON, n=17).
Relative to CON and FHP, the ALC group showed increased BOLD response in the left middle and superior frontal gyri for the spatial working memory condition relative to the vigilance condition (SWM contrast). Additionally, the ALC group showed unique BOLD response increases in the left lingual gyrus and right middle frontal gyrus relative to CON, and left cuneus and precuneus relative to FHP. Both ALC and FHP showed greater activation compared to CON in the lentiform nucleus and insular region.
These results confirm previous studies suggesting SWM deficits in FASD. Differences between the ALC group and the CON and FHP groups suggest the left middle and superior frontal region may be specifically affected in alcohol-exposed children. Conversely, differences from the CON group in the lentiform nucleus and insular region for the ALC and FHP groups may indicate this region is associated with family history of alcoholism rather than specifically with prenatal alcohol exposure.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD); Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS); Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Spatial Working Memory; Family History of Alcoholism