Accurate evaluation of glomerular filtration rates (GFRs) is of critical importance in clinical practice. A previous study showed that models based on artificial neural networks (ANNs) could achieve a better performance than traditional equations. However, large-sample cross-sectional surveys have not resolved questions about ANN performance.
A total of 1,180 patients that had chronic kidney disease (CKD) were enrolled in the development data set, the internal validation data set and the external validation data set. Additional 222 patients that were admitted to two independent institutions were externally validated. Several ANNs were constructed and finally a Back Propagation network optimized by a genetic algorithm (GABP network) was chosen as a superior model, which included six input variables; i.e., serum creatinine, serum urea nitrogen, age, height, weight and gender, and estimated GFR as the one output variable. Performance was then compared with the Cockcroft-Gault equation, the MDRD equations and the CKD-EPI equation.
In the external validation data set, Bland-Altman analysis demonstrated that the precision of the six-variable GABP network was the highest among all of the estimation models; i.e., 46.7 ml/min/1.73 m2 vs. a range from 71.3 to 101.7 ml/min/1.73 m2, allowing improvement in accuracy (15% accuracy, 49.0%; 30% accuracy, 75.1%; 50% accuracy, 90.5% [P<0.001 for all]) and CKD stage classification (misclassification rate of CKD stage, 32.4% vs. a range from 47.3% to 53.3% [P<0.001 for all]). Furthermore, in the additional external validation data set, precision and accuracy were improved by the six-variable GABP network.
A new ANN model (the six-variable GABP network) for CKD patients was developed that could provide a simple, more accurate and reliable means for the estimation of GFR and stage of CKD than traditional equations. Further validations are needed to assess the ability of the ANN model in diverse populations.
fMRI; motivation-reward; behavioral inhibition; risk for substance abuse; ADHD
A non-dipper blood pressure (BP) pattern is very common in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients and affects the progression and development of cardiovascular disease. However, data on the reversed dipper BP pattern on target-organ damage in Chinese CKD patients are lacking.
A total of 540 CKD patients were enrolled. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), clinical BP, ultrasonographic assessment and other clinical data were collected. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to ascertain the relationship between ABPM results and clinical parameters.
A total of 21.9% CKD patients had a reversed dipper BP pattern, 42% of patients had a non-dipper BP pattern and 36.1% of patients had a dipper BP pattern. Patients with reversed dipper BP pattern had the worst renal function and most severe cardiovascular damages among these CKD patients (p<0.05). The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and left ventricular mass index (LVMI) correlated significantly with the rate of decline of nocturnal BP. A reversed dipper BP pattern was an independent factor affecting kidney damage and left ventricular hypertrophy. Age, lower hemoglobin level, higher 24-h systolic BP from ABPM, and higher serum phosphate levels were independent associated with a reversed dipper BP pattern after multivariate logistic regression analyses.
The reversed dipper BP pattern is closely related to severe renal damage and cardiovascular injuries in CKD patients, and special attention should be given to these CKD patients.
Existing evidence suggests that reward and attentional networks function in concert and that activation in one system influences the other in a reciprocal fashion; however, the nature of these influences remains poorly understood. We therefore developed a three-component task to assess the interaction effects of reward anticipation and conflict resolution on the behavioral performance and the activation of brain reward and attentional systems. Sixteen healthy adult volunteers aged 21–45 years were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing the task. A two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with cue (reward vs. non-reward) and target (congruent vs. incongruent) as within-subjects factors was used to test for main and interaction effects. Neural responses to anticipation, conflict, and reward outcomes were tested. Behaviorally there were main effects of both reward cue and target congruency on reaction time. Neuroimaging results showed that reward anticipation and expected reward outcomes activated components of the attentional networks, including the inferior parietal and occipital cortices, whereas surprising non-rewards activated the frontoinsular cortex bilaterally and deactivated the ventral striatum. In turn, conflict activated a broad network associated with cognitive control and motor functions. Interaction effects showed decreased activity in the thalamus, anterior cingulated gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus bilaterally when difficult conflict trials (e.g., incongruent targets) were preceded by reward cues; in contrast, the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex showed greater activation during congruent targets preceded by reward cues. These results suggest that reward anticipation is associated with lower activation in attentional networks, possibly due to increased processing efficiency, whereas more difficult, conflict trials are associated with lower activity in regions of the reward system, possibly because such trials are experienced as less rewarding.
Attention; brain reward system; fMRI; motivation; neuroimaging; neuroscience
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is recognized worldwide as a public health problem, and its prevalence increases as the population ages. However, the applicability of formulas for estimating the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) based on serum creatinine (SC) levels in elderly Chinese patients with CKD is limited.
Materials and methods
Based on values obtained with the technetium-99m diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (99mTc-DTPA) renal dynamic imaging method, 319 elderly Chinese patients with CKD were enrolled in this study. Serum creatinine was determined by the enzymatic method. The GFR was estimated using the Cockroft–Gault (CG) equation, the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) equations, the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration (CKD-EPI) equation, the Jelliffe-1973 equation, and the Hull equation.
The median of difference ranged from −0.3–4.3 mL/min/1.73 m2. The interquartile range (IQR) of differences ranged from 13.9–17.6 mL/min/1.73 m2. Accuracy with a deviation less than 15% ranged from 27.6%–32.9%. Accuracy with a deviation less than 30% ranged from 53.6%–57.7%. Accuracy with a deviation less than 50% ranged from 74.9%–81.5%. None of the equations had accuracy up to the 70% level with a deviation less than 30% from the standard glomerular filtration rate (sGFR). Bland–Altman analysis demonstrated that the mean difference ranged from −3.0–2.4 mL/min/1.73 m2. However, the agreement limits of all the equations, except the CG equation, exceeded the prior acceptable tolerances defined as 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. When the overall performance and accuracy were compared in different stages of CKD, GFR estimated using the CG equation showed promising results.
Our study indicated that none of these equations were suitable for estimating GFR in the elderly Chinese population investigated. At present, based on overall performance, as well as performance in different CKD stages, the CG equation may be the most accurate for estimating GFR in elderly Chinese patients with CKD.
elderly; equation; glomerular filtration rate; serum creatinine; Chinese
Attentional dysfunction is among the most consistent observations of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, the neural nature of this deficit in ASD is still unclear. In this study, we aimed to identify the neurobehavioral correlates of attentional dysfunction in ASD. We used the Attention Network Test-Revised and functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine alerting, orienting, and executive control functions, as well as the neural substrates underlying these attentional functions in unmedicated, high-functioning adults with ASD (n = 12) and matched healthy controls (HC, n = 12). Compared with HC, individuals with ASD showed increased error rates in alerting and executive control, accompanied by lower activity in the mid-frontal gyrus and the caudate nucleus for alerting, and by the absence of significant functional activation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) for executive control. In addition, greater behavioral deficiency in executive control in ASD was correlated with less functional activation of the ACC. These findings of behavioral and neural abnormalities in alerting and executive control of attention in ASD may suggest core attentional deficits, which require further investigation.
Alerting; anterior cingulate cortex; attentional networks; autism; executive control
To better understand the reward circuitry in human brain, we conducted activation likelihood estimation (ALE) and parametric voxel-based meta-analyses (PVM) on 142 neuroimaging studies that examined brain activation in reward-related tasks in healthy adults. We observed several core brain areas that participated in reward-related decision making, including the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), caudate, putamen, thalamus, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), bilateral anterior insula, anterior (ACC) and posterior (PCC) cingulate cortex, as well as cognitive control regions in the inferior parietal lobule and prefrontal cortex (PFC). The NAcc was commonly activated by both positive and negative rewards across various stages of reward processing (e.g., anticipation, outcome, and evaluation). In addition, the medial OFC and PCC preferentially responded to positive rewards, whereas the ACC, bilateral anterior insula, and lateral PFC selectively responded to negative rewards. Reward anticipation activated the ACC, bilateral anterior insula, and brain stem, whereas reward outcome more significantly activated the NAcc, medial OFC, and amygdala. Neurobiological theories of reward-related decision making should therefore distributed and interrelated representations of reward valuation and valence assessment into account.
meta-analysis; reward; nucleus accumbens; orbitofrontal cortex; anterior cingulate cortex; anterior insula
Many young people experiment with cannabis, yet only a subgroup progress to dependence suggesting individual differences that could relate to factors such as genetics and behavioral traits. Dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) and proenkephalin (PENK) genes have been implicated in animal studies with cannabis exposure. Whether polymorphisms of these genes are associated with cannabis dependence and related behavioral traits is unknown.
Healthy young adults (18–27 years) with cannabis dependence and without a dependence diagnosis were studied (N = 50/group) in relation to a priori-determined single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the DRD2 and PENK genes. Negative affect, Impulsive Risk Taking and Neuroticism-Anxiety temperamental traits, positive and negative reward-learning performance and stop-signal reaction times were examined. The findings replicated the known association between the rs6277 DRD2 SNP and decisions associated with negative reinforcement outcomes. Moreover, PENK variants (rs2576573 and rs2609997) significantly related to Neuroticism and cannabis dependence. Cigarette smoking is common in cannabis users, but it was not associated to PENK SNPs as also validated in another cohort (N = 247 smokers, N = 312 non-smokers). Neuroticism mediated (15.3%–19.5%) the genetic risk to cannabis dependence and interacted with risk SNPs, resulting in a 9-fold increase risk for cannabis dependence. Molecular characterization of the postmortem human brain in a different population revealed an association between PENK SNPs and PENK mRNA expression in the central amygdala nucleus emphasizing the functional relevance of the SNPs in a brain region strongly linked to negative affect.
Overall, the findings suggest an important role for Neuroticism as an endophenotype linking PENK polymorphisms to cannabis-dependence vulnerability synergistically amplifying the apparent genetic risk.
Heat stress commonly leads to inhibition of photosynthesis in higher plants. The transcriptional induction of heat stress-responsive genes represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis. Although heat stress transcription factor HsfA2 and its downstream target genes are well studied, the regulatory mechanisms by which HsfA2 is activated in response to heat stress remain elusive. Here, we show that chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) is a heat-responsive protein and functions in protein biosynthesis in chloroplast. Knockdown of RPS1 expression in the rps1 mutant nearly eliminates the heat stress-activated expression of HsfA2 and its target genes, leading to a considerable loss of heat tolerance. We further confirm the relationship existed between the downregulation of RPS1 expression and the loss of heat tolerance by generating RNA interference-transgenic lines of RPS1. Consistent with the notion that the inhibited activation of HsfA2 in response to heat stress in the rps1 mutant causes heat-susceptibility, we further demonstrate that overexpression of HsfA2 with a viral promoter leads to constitutive expressions of its target genes in the rps1 mutant, which is sufficient to reestablish lost heat tolerance and recovers heat-susceptible thylakoid stability to wild-type levels. Our findings reveal a heat-responsive retrograde pathway in which chloroplast translation capacity is a critical factor in heat-responsive activation of HsfA2 and its target genes required for cellular homeostasis under heat stress. Thus, RPS1 is an essential yet previously unknown determinant involved in retrograde activation of heat stress responses in higher plants.
As a consequence of global warming, increasing temperature is a serious threat to crop production worldwide and may influence the objectives of breeding programs. As a universal cellular response to a shift up in temperature, the heat stress response represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms. Given that components of the photosynthetic apparatus housed in the chloroplast are the primary susceptible targets of thermal damage in plants, the chloroplasts were proposed as sensors to a shift up in temperature. However, the mechanism by which chloroplasts regulate the expression of nuclear heat stress–responsive gene expression according to the functional state of chloroplasts under heat stress remains unknown. In this study, we have identified chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) as a heat-responsive protein through proteomic screening of heat-responsive proteins. We have established a previously unrecognized molecular connection between the downregulation of RPS1 expression in chloroplast and the activation of HsfA2-dependent heat-responsive genes in nucleus, which is required for heat tolerance in higher plants. Our data provide new insights into the mechanisms whereby plant cells modulate nuclear gene expression to keep accordance with the current status of chloroplasts in response to heat stress.
Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a clinically defined neurological condition following lack of oxygen and often associated with cardiac dysfunction in term infants. Therapeutic hypothermia after birth is neuroprotective in infants with HIE. However, it is not known whether hypothermia (HT) is also cardioprotective. Four newborn pigs were used in the pilot study and a further 18 newborn pigs (randomly assigned to 72h-normothermia (NT) or 24h-HT followed by 48h-NT) were subjected to global HIE insults. Serum cTnI was measured prior to and post the HIE insult. Blood pressure, inotropic support, blood gases and heart rate (HR) were recorded throughout. Cardiac pathology was assessed from histological sections. Cooling reduced serum cTnI levels significantly in HT pigs by 6h (NT, 1.36±0.67; HT 0.34±0.23 ng/ml, p=0.0009). After rewarming, from 24 to 30h post insult, HR and cTnI increased in the HT group; from HR[24h]=117±22 to HR[30h]=218±32 beats/minute (p=0.0002) and from cTnI[24h]=0.23±0.12 to cTnI[30h]=0.65±0.53ng/ml, (p=0.05). There were fewer ischemic lesions on cardiac examination (37%) in the HT group compared to the NT group (70%). Hypothermia (24h) pigs did not have the post-insult cTnI increase seen in NT treated pigs. There was a trend that HT improved cardiac pathology in this 3-day survival model.
The use of methamphetamine (MA) has increased in recent years, and is a major health concern throughout the world. The use of MA has been associated with an increased risk of acquiring HIV-1, along with an increased probability of the acquisition of various sexually transmitted infections. In order to determine the potential effects of MA exposure in the context of an infectious agent, U937 macrophages were exposed to various combinations of MA and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Treatment with MA alone caused significant increases in the levels of TNF-α, while treatment with both MA and LPS resulted in significant increases in TNF-α, IL-1β and the chemokine IL-8. The increases in cytokine or chemokine levels seen when cells were treated with both LPS and MA were generally greater than those increases observed when cells were treated with only LPS. Treatment with chemical inhibitors demonstrated that the signal transduction pathways including NF-kB, MAPK, and PI3-Akt were involved in mediating the increased inflammatory response. As discussed in the paper, these pathways appear to be utilized by both MA and LPS, in the induction of these inflammatory mediators. Since these pathways are involved in the induction of inflammation in response to other pathogens, this suggests that MA-exacerbated inflammation may be a common feature of infectious disease in MA abusers.
The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and frontoinsular cortex (FI) have been implicated in processing information across a variety of domains, including those related to attention and emotion. However, their role in rapid information processing, for example, as required for timely processing of salient stimuli, is not well understood. Here, we designed an emotional face priming paradigm and employed functional magnetic resonance imaging to elucidate their role in these mechanisms. Target faces with either neutral or fearful emotion were briefly primed by either neutral or fearful faces, or by blank ovals. Activation in the pregenual ACC and the FI, together with other regions, such as the amygdala, were preferentially activated in response to fearful face priming, suggesting that these regions are involved in the rapid processing of salient facial emotional information.
anterior cingulate cortex; emotion; fMRI; frontoinsular cortex; priming
In the title homochiral mononuclear compound, [Zn(NO3)2(C6H12N4O2)2], the ZnII atom is located on a twofold rotation axis and coordinated by two N atoms from two ligands and two O atoms from two NO3
− anions, adopting a distorted tetrahedral coordination geometry. The compound is enantiomerically pure and corresponds to the S diastereoisomer, with the optical activity originating from the chiral ligand. In the crystal, molecules are connected into three-dimensional supramolecular networks through O—H⋯O, O—H⋯N and N—H⋯O hydrogen bonds.
High sensation seeking has been linked to increased risk for drug abuse and other negative behavioral outcomes. This study explored the neurobiological basis of this personality trait using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). High sensation seekers (HSSs) and low sensation seekers (LSSs) viewed high- and low-arousal pictures. Comparison of the groups revealed that HSSs showed stronger fMRI responses to high-arousal stimuli in brain regions associated with arousal and reinforcement (right insula, posterior medial orbitofrontal cortex), whereas LSSs showed greater activation and earlier onset of fMRI responses to high-arousal stimuli in regions involved in emotional regulation (anterior medial orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate). Furthermore, fMRI response in anterior medial orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate was negatively correlated with urgency. Finally, LSSs showed greater sensitivity to the valence of the stimuli than did HSSs. These distinct neurobiological profiles suggest that HSSs exhibit neural responses consistent with an overactive approach system, whereas LSSs exhibit responses consistent with a stronger inhibitory system.
Cognitive reappraisal is a commonly used and highly adaptive strategy for emotion regulation that has been studied in healthy volunteers. Most studies to date have focused on forms of reappraisal that involve reinterpreting the meaning of stimuli and have intermixed social and non-social emotional stimuli. Here we examined the neural correlates of the regulation of negative emotion elicited by social situations using a less studied form of reappraisal known as distancing. Whole brain fMRI data were obtained as participants viewed aversive and neutral social scenes with instructions to either simply look at and respond naturally to the images or to downregulate their emotional responses by distancing. Three key findings were obtained accompanied with the reduced aversive response behaviorally. First, across both instruction types, aversive social images activated the amygdala. Second, across both image types, distancing activated the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), intraparietal sulci (IPS), and middle/superior temporal gyrus (M/STG). Third, when distancing one’s self from aversive images, activity increased in dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), lateral prefrontal cortex, precuneus and PCC, IPS, and M/STG, meanwhile, and decreased in the amygdala. These findings demonstrate that distancing from aversive social cues modulates amygdala activity via engagement of networks implicated in social perception, perspective-taking, and attentional allocation.
Emotion; Cognitive Reappraisal; Social Cognitive Neuroscience; Emotional Distancing; Emotion Regulation; fMRI
Despite the importance of cognitive control in many cognitive tasks involving uncertainty, the computational mechanisms of cognitive control in response to uncertainty remain unclear. In this study, we develop biologically realistic neural network models to investigate the instantiation of cognitive control in a majority function task, where one determines the category to which the majority of items in a group belong. Two models are constructed, both of which include the same set of modules representing task-relevant brain functions and share the same model structure. However, with a critical change of a model parameter setting, the two models implement two different underlying algorithms: one for grouping search (where a subgroup of items are sampled and re-sampled until a congruent sample is found) and the other for self-terminating search (where the items are scanned and counted one-by-one until the majority is decided). The two algorithms hold distinct implications for the involvement of cognitive control. The modeling results show that while both models are able to perform the task, the grouping search model fit the human data better than the self-terminating search model. An examination of the dynamics underlying model performance reveals how cognitive control might be instantiated in the brain for computing the majority function.
cognitive control; uncertainty; majority function; algorithms; computational modeling; neural networks
Emotional instability is a defining feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD), yet little is understood about its underlying neural correlates. One possible contributing factor to emotional instability is a failure to adequately employ adaptive cognitive regulatory strategies such as psychological distancing.
To determine whether there are differences in neural dynamics underlying this control strategy, between BPD patients and healthy volunteers (HC’s), BOLD fMRI signals were acquired as 18 BPD and 16 HC subjects distanced from or simply looked at negative and neutral pictures depicting social interactions. Contrasts in signal between distance and look condition were compared between groups to identify commonalities and differences in regional activation.
BPD patients show a different pattern of activation compared to HC subjects when looking at negative vs. neutral pictures. When distancing vs. looking at negative pictures, both groups showed decreased negative affect in rating and increased activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, areas near/along the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate/precuneus regions. However, the BPD group showed less BOLD signal change in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and IPS, less deactivation in the amygdala and greater activation in the superior temporal sulcus and superior frontal gyrus.
BPD and HC subjects display different neural dynamics while passively viewing social emotional stimuli. In addition, BPD patients do not engage the cognitive control regions to the extent that HC’s do when employing a distancing strategy to regulate emotional reactions, which may be a factor contributing to the affective instability of BPD.
Emotion; Cognitive Reappraisal; Social Cognitive Neuroscience; Psychological Distancing; Emotion Regulation; fMRI
The frontoinsular cortex (FI) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) are known to be involved in empathy for others’ pain. However, the functional roles of FI and ACC in empathetic responses have not yet been clearly dissociated in previous studies. In this study, participants viewed color photographs depicting human body parts (hands or feet) in painful or non-painful situations and performed either pain judgment (painful/non-painful) or laterality judgment (left/right) of the body parts. We found that activation of FI, rather than ACC, showed significant increase for painful compared to non-painful images, regardless of the task requirement. These findings suggest a clear functional dissociation between FI and ACC in which FI is more domain-specific than ACC in processing of empathy for pain.
empathy; fMRI; insula; anterior cingulate cortex; pain; Emotion
One current conceptualization of attention subdivides it into functions of alerting, orienting, and executive control. Alerting describes the function of tonically maintaining the alert state and phasically responding to a warning signal. Automatic and voluntary orienting are involved in the selection of information among multiple sensory inputs. Executive control describes a set of more complex operations that includes monitoring and resolving conflicts in order to control thoughts or behaviors. Converging evidence supports this theory of attention by showing that each function appears to be subserved by anatomically distinct networks in the brain and differentially innervated by various neuromodulatory systems. Although much research has been dedicated to understanding the functional separation of these networks in both healthy and disease states, the interaction and integration among these networks still remain unclear. In this study, we aimed to characterize possible behavioral interaction and integration in healthy adult volunteers using a revised attentional network test (ANT-R) with cue-target interval and cue validity manipulations. We found that whereas alerting improves overall response speed, it exerts negative influence on executive control under certain conditions. A valid orienting cue enhances but an invalid cue diminishes the ability of executive control to overcome conflict. The results support the hypothesis of functional integration and interaction of these brain networks.
attention; attentional networks; alerting; orienting; executive control
Although many neuroimaging studies have examined changes in brain function in adults with substance use disorders, far fewer have examined adolescents. This study investigated patterns of brain activation in adolescents with severe substance and conduct problems (SCP) compared to controls.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 1.5 Tesla assessed brain activation in 12 adolescent males with SCP, ranging in age from 14 to 18, and 12 controls similar in age, gender, and neighborhood while performing the attentionally-demanding Stroop task.
Even though the adolescents with SCP performed as well as the controls, they activated a more extensive set of brain structures for incongruent (e.g., “red” in blue ink) versus congruent (e.g. “red” in red ink) trials. These regions included parahippocampal regions bilaterally, posterior regions involved in language-related processing, right-sided medial prefrontal areas, and subcortical regions including the the thalamus and caudate.
These preliminary results suggest that the neural mechanisms of attentional control in youth with SCP differ from youth without such problems. This difficulty may prevent SCP youth from ignoring salient but distracting information in the environment, such as drug-related information.
The present study explored constraints on mid-fusiform activation during object discrimination. In three experiments, participants performed a matching task on simple line configurations, nameable objects, three dimensional (3-D) shapes, and colors. Significant bilateral mid-fusiform activation emerged when participants matched objects and 3-D shapes, as compared to when they matched two-dimensional (2-D) line configurations and colors, indicating that the mid-fusiform is engaged more strongly for processing structural descriptions (e.g., comparing 3-D volumetric shape) than perceptual descriptions (e.g., comparing 2-D or color information). In two of the experiments, the same mid-fusiform regions were also modulated by the degree of structural similarity between stimuli, implicating a role for the mid-fusiform in fine differentiation of similar visual object representations. Importantly, however, this process of fine differentiation occurred at the level of structural, but not perceptual, descriptions. Moreover, mid-fusiform activity was more robust when participants matched shape compared to color information using the identical stimuli, indicating that activity in the mid-fusiform gyrus is not driven by specific stimulus properties, but rather by the process of distinguishing stimuli based on shape information. Taken together, these findings further clarify the nature of object processing in the mid-fusiform gyrus. This region is engaged specifically in structural differentiation, a critical component process of object recognition and categorization.
Brain imaging genetic research involves a multitude of methods and spans many traditional levels of analysis. Given the vast permutations among several million common genetic variants with thousands of brain tissue voxels and a wide array of cognitive tasks that activate specific brain systems, we are prompted to develop specific hypotheses that synthesize converging evidence and state clear predictions about the anatomical sources, magnitude and direction (increases vs. decreases) of allele- and task-specific brain activity associations. To begin to develop a framework for shaping our imaging genetic hypotheses, we focus on previous results and the wider imaging genetic literature. Particular emphasis is placed on converging evidence that links system-level and biochemical studies with models of synaptic function. In shaping our own imaging genetic hypotheses on the development of Attention Networks, we review relevant literature on core models of synaptic physiology and development in the anterior cingulate cortex.
Low socio-economic status (SES) is associated with increased morbidity and premature mortality. Because tonic adversity relates to a diminished ability to experience pleasure, we hypothesized that subjects living in poverty would show diminished neural responsivity to positive stimuli in regions associated with positive experience and reward. Visual images were presented to twenty-two subjects in the context of a EPI-BOLD fMRI paradigm. Significant differences in neural responses between SES groups to poverty vs. neutral images were assessed, examining group, condition, and interaction effects. The data suggest that persons living in low-SES have neural experiences consistent with diminished interest in things generally enjoyed and point toward a possible explanation for the relationship between socioeconomic inequalities and mood disorders, such as depression, by SES.
fMRI; depression; mood; stress; socio-economic status.
Alexithymia is a personality trait characterized by deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions. Recent studies have revealed that alexithymia is associated with less activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region shown to play a role in cognitive and emotional processing. However, few studies have directly investigated the cognitive domain in relation to alexithymia to examine whether alexithymic trait is related to less efficient voluntary control.
Methodology/ Principal Findings
We examined the relationship between alexithymic trait and voluntary control in a group of healthy volunteers. We used the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) to measure alexithymic trait. Additionally, we examined state and trait voluntary control using the revised Attention Network Test (ANT-R) and the Adult Temperament Questionnaire (ATQ), respectively. Alexithymic trait was positively correlated with the overall reaction time of the ANT-R, and negatively correlated with the Effortful Control factor of the ATQ.
Our results suggest that alexithymic trait is associated with less efficient voluntary control.
Voluntary control of information processing is crucial to allocate resources and prioritize the processes that are most important under a given situation; the algorithms underlying such control, however, are often not clear. We investigated possible algorithms of control for the performance of the majority function, in which participants searched for and identified one of two alternative categories (left or right pointing arrows) as composing the majority in each stimulus set. We manipulated the amount (set size of 1, 3, and 5) and content (ratio of left and right pointing arrows within a set) of the inputs to test competing hypotheses regarding mental operations for information processing. Using a novel measure based on computational load, we found that reaction time was best predicted by a grouping search algorithm as compared to alternative algorithms (i.e., exhaustive or self-terminating search). The grouping search algorithm involves sampling and resampling of the inputs before a decision is reached. These findings highlight the importance of investigating the implications of voluntary control via algorithms of mental operations.