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1.  Effect of Transcranial Brain Stimulation for the Treatment of Alzheimer Disease: A Review 
Available pharmacological treatments for Alzheimer disease (AD) have limited effectiveness, are expensive, and sometimes induce side effects. Therefore, alternative or complementary adjuvant therapeutic strategies have gained increasing attention. The development of novel noninvasive methods of brain stimulation has increased the interest in neuromodulatory techniques as potential therapeutic tool for cognitive rehabilitation in AD. In particular, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are noninvasive approaches that induce prolonged functional changes in the cerebral cortex. Several studies have begun to therapeutically use rTMS or tDCS to improve cognitive performances in patients with AD. However, most of them induced short-duration beneficial effects and were not adequately powered to establish evidence for therapeutic efficacy. Therefore, TMS and tDCS approaches, seeking to enhance cognitive function, have to be considered still very preliminary. In future studies, multiple rTMS or tDCS sessions might also interact, and metaplasticity effects could affect the outcome.
doi:10.1155/2012/687909
PMCID: PMC3202129  PMID: 22114748
2.  Deactivation of the Default Mode Network as a Marker of Impaired Consciousness: An fMRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26373.
Diagnosis of patients with a disorder of consciousness is very challenging. Previous studies investigating resting state networks demonstrate that 2 main features of the so-called default mode network (DMN), metabolism and functional connectivity, are impaired in patients with a disorder of consciousness. However, task-induced deactivation – a third main feature of the DMN – has not been explored in a group of patients. Deactivation of the DMN is supposed to reflect interruptions of introspective processes. Seventeen patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS, former vegetative state), 8 patients in minimally conscious state (MCS), and 25 healthy controls were investigated with functional magnetic resonance imaging during a passive sentence listening task. Results show that deactivation in medial regions is reduced in MCS and absent in UWS patients compared to healthy controls. Moreover, behavioral scores assessing the level of consciousness correlate with deactivation in patients. On single-subject level, all control subjects but only 2 patients in MCS and 6 with UWS exposed deactivation. Interestingly, all patients who deactivated during speech processing (except for one) showed activation in left frontal regions which are associated with conscious processing. Our results indicate that deactivation of the DMN can be associated with the level of consciousness by selecting those who are able to interrupt ongoing introspective processes. In consequence, deactivation of the DMN may function as a marker of consciousness.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026373
PMCID: PMC3198462  PMID: 22039473
3.  A Dual-Route Perspective on Poor Reading in a Regular Orthography: An fMRI Study 
This study examined functional brain abnormalities in dyslexic German readers who – due to the regularity of German in the reading direction – do not exhibit the reading accuracy problem of English dyslexic readers, but suffer primarily from a reading speed problem. The in-scanner task required phonological lexical decisions (i.e., Does xxx sound like an existing word?) and presented familiar and unfamiliar letter strings of existing phonological words (e.g., Taxi-Taksi) together with nonwords (e.g., Tazi). Dyslexic readers exhibited the same response latency pattern (words < pseudohomophones < nonwords) as nonimpaired readers, but latencies to all item types were much prolonged. The imaging results were suggestive for a different neural organization of reading processes in dyslexic readers. Specifically, dyslexic readers, in response to lexical route processes, exhibited underactivation in a left ventral occipitotemporal region which presumably is engaged by visual-orthographic whole word recognition. This region was also insensitive to the increased visual-orthographic processing demands of the sublexical route. Reduced engagement in response to sublexical route processes was also found in a left inferior parietal region, presumably engaged by attentional processes, and in a left inferior frontal region, presumably engaged by phonological processes. In contrast to this reduced engagement of the optimal left hemisphere reading network (ventral OT, inferior parietal, inferior frontal), our dyslexic readers exhibited increased engagement of visual occipital regions and of regions presumably engaged by silent articulatory processes (premotor/motor cortex and subcortical caudate and putamen).
doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2010.06.004
PMCID: PMC3073233  PMID: 20650450
4.  Taxi vs. Taksi: On orthographic word recognition in the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2007;19(10):1584-1594.
The importance of the left occipitotemporal cortex for visual word processing is highlighted by numerous functional neuroimaging studies, but the precise function of the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) in this brain region is still under debate. The present fMRI study varied orthographic familiarity independent from phonological-semantic familiarity by presenting orthographically familiar and orthographically unfamiliar forms (pseudohomophones) of the same words in a phonological lexical decision task. Consistent with orthographic word recognition in the VWFA, we found lower activation for familiar compared to unfamiliar forms, but no difference between pseudohomophones and pseudowords. This orthographic familiarity effect in the VWFA differed from the phonological familiarity effect in left frontal regions, where phonologically unfamiliar pseudowords led to higher activation than phonologically familiar pseudohomophones. We suggest that the VWFA not only computes letter string representations but also hosts word specific orthographic representations. These representations function as recognition units with the effect that letter strings, which readily match with stored representations lead to less activation than letter strings which do not.
PMCID: PMC2989180  PMID: 17933023
Functional MRI; orthographic word recognition; visual word processing; occipitotemporal cortex; reading
5.  A Dual-Route Perspective on Brain Activation in Response to Visual Words: Evidence for a Length by Lexicality Interaction in the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) 
NeuroImage  2009;49(3):2649-2661.
Based on our previous work, we expected the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) in the left ventral visual pathway to be engaged by both whole-word recognition and by serial sublexical coding of letter strings. To examine this double function, a phonological lexical decision task (i.e., “Does xxx sound like an existing word?”) presented short and long letter strings of words, pseudohomophones, and pseudowords (e.g., Taxi, Taksi and Tazi). Main findings were that the length effect for words was limited to occipital regions and absent in the VWFA. In contrast, a marked length effect for pseudowords was found throughout the ventral visual pathway including the VWFA, as well as in regions presumably engaged by visual attention and silent-articulatory processes. The length by lexicality interaction on brain activation corresponds to well-established behavioral findings of a length by lexicality interaction on naming latencies and speaks for the engagement of the VWFA by both lexical and sublexical processes.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.10.082
PMCID: PMC2989181  PMID: 19896538
6.  On the functional neuroanatomy of visual word processing: Effects of case and letter deviance 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2009;21(2):222-229.
This fMRI study contrasted case-deviant and letter-deviant forms with familiar forms of the same phonological words (e.g., TaXi and Taksi vs. Taxi) and found, that both types of deviance led to increased activation in a left occipitotemporal region corresponding to the Visual Word Form Area. Case-deviant items, in addition, led to increased activation in a right occipitotemporal region and in a left occipital and a left posterior occipitotemporal region, possibly reflecting the increased demands on letter form coding. For letter-deviant items, in addition to the increased left occipitotemporal activation, a main finding was increased activation primarily in extended left frontal regions, possibly reflecting sublexically mediated access to word phonology. These findings are consistent with general features of cognitive dual-route models of visual word processing. Furthermore, they add support to the main feature of Dehaene et al.’s (2005) neural model of early stages of visual word processing . However, the increased activation found for case-deviant items in the VWFA cannot be immediately reconciled with the assumption of completely abstract case-independent orthographic word codes in the VWFA.
doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21002
PMCID: PMC2976854  PMID: 18476755
Functional MRI; visual word recognition; occipitotemporal cortex; visual word form area; orthographic processing
7.  A dual-route perspective on poor reading in a regular orthography: An fMRI study 
This study examined functional brain abnormalities in dyslexic German readers who – due to the regularity of German in the reading direction – do not exhibit the reading accuracy problem of English dyslexic readers, but suffer primarily from a reading speed problem. The in-scanner task required phonological lexical decisions (i.e., Does xxx sound like an existing word?) and presented familiar and unfamiliar letter strings of existing phonological words (e.g., Taxi-Taksi) together with nonwords (e.g., Tazi). Dyslexic readers exhibited the same response latency pattern (words < pseudohomophones < nonwords) as nonimpaired readers, but latencies to all item types were much prolonged. The imaging results were suggestive for a different neural organization of reading processes in dyslexic readers. Specifically, dyslexic readers, in response to lexical route processes, exhibited underactivation in a left ventral occipitotemporal (OT) region which presumably is engaged by visual-orthographic whole word recognition. This region was also insensitive to the increased visual-orthographic processing demands of the sublexical route. Reduced engagement in response to sublexical route processes was also found in a left inferior parietal region, presumably engaged by attentional processes, and in a left inferior frontal region, presumably engaged by phonological processes. In contrast to this reduced engagement of the optimal left hemisphere reading network (ventral OT, inferior parietal, inferior frontal), our dyslexic readers exhibited increased engagement of visual occipital regions and of regions presumably engaged by silent articulatory processes (premotor/motor cortex and subcortical caudate and putamen).
doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2010.06.004
PMCID: PMC3073233  PMID: 20650450
Developmental dyslexia; fMRI; Reading; Phonological lexical decision; Dual-route
8.  A Common Left Occipito-Temporal Dysfunction in Developmental Dyslexia and Acquired Letter-By-Letter Reading? 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12073.
Background
We used fMRI to examine functional brain abnormalities of German-speaking dyslexics who suffer from slow effortful reading but not from a reading accuracy problem. Similar to acquired cases of letter-by-letter reading, the developmental cases exhibited an abnormal strong effect of length (i.e., number of letters) on response time for words and pseudowords.
Results
Corresponding to lesions of left occipito-temporal (OT) regions in acquired cases, we found a dysfunction of this region in our developmental cases who failed to exhibit responsiveness of left OT regions to the length of words and pseudowords. This abnormality in the left OT cortex was accompanied by absent responsiveness to increased sublexical reading demands in phonological inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) regions. Interestingly, there was no abnormality in the left superior temporal cortex which—corresponding to the onological deficit explanation—is considered to be the prime locus of the reading difficulties of developmental dyslexia cases.
Conclusions
The present functional imaging results suggest that developmental dyslexia similar to acquired letter-by-letter reading is due to a primary dysfunction of left OT regions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012073
PMCID: PMC2920311  PMID: 20711448
9.  Molecular Evidence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Ixodes ricinus Ticks and Wild Animals in Austria 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(5):2285-2286.
Real-time PCR analysis of a groESL heat shock operon segment showed the presence of two genetic lineages of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Ixodes ricinus ticks as well as one variant in wild red and roe deer, the latter supposedly representing the natural reservoir of one variant of A. phagocytophilum.
doi:10.1128/JCM.42.5.2285-2286.2004
PMCID: PMC404603  PMID: 15131214

Results 1-9 (9)