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1.  Flexible modulation of network connectivity related to cognition in Alzheimer’s disease 
NeuroImage  2014;100:544-557.
Functional neuroimaging tools, such as fMRI methods, may elucidate the neural correlates of clinical, behavioral, and cognitive performance. Most functional imaging studies focus on regional task-related activity or resting state connectivity rather than how changes in functional connectivity across conditions and tasks are related to cognitive and behavioral performance. To investigate the promise of characterizing context-dependent connectivity-behavior relationships, this study applies the method of generalized psychophysiological interactions (gPPI) to assess the patterns of associative-memory-related fMRI hippocampal functional connectivity in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) associated with performance on memory and other cognitively demanding neuropsychological tests and clinical measures. Twenty-four subjects with mild AD dementia (ages 54–82, nine females) participated in a face-name paired-associate encoding memory study. Generalized PPI analysis was used to estimate the connectivity between the hippocampus and the whole brain during encoding. The difference in hippocampal-whole brain connectivity between encoding novel and repeated face-name pairs was used in multiple-regression analyses as an independent predictor for 10 behavioral, neuropsychological and clinical tests. The analysis revealed connectivity-behavior relationships that were distributed, dynamically overlapping, and task-specific within and across intrinsic networks; hippocampal-whole brain connectivity-behavior relationships were not isolated to single networks, but spanned multiple brain networks. Importantly, these spatially distributed performance patterns were unique for each measure. In general, out-of-network behavioral associations with encoding novel greater than repeated face-name pairs hippocampal-connectivity were observed in the default-mode network, while correlations with encoding repeated greater than novel face-name pairs hippocampal-connectivity were observed in the executive control network (p<0.05, cluster corrected). Psychophysiological interactions revealed significantly more extensive and robust associations between paired-associate encoding task-dependent hippocampal-whole brain connectivity and performance on memory and behavioral/clinical measures than previously revealed by standard activity-behavior analysis. Compared to resting state and task-activation methods, gPPI analyses may be more sensitive to reveal additional complementary information regarding subtle within- and between-network relations. The patterns of robust correlations between hippocampal-whole brain connectivity and behavioral measures identified here suggest that there are ‘coordinated states’ in the brain; that the dynamic range of these states is related to behavior and cognition; and that these states can be observed and quantified, even in individuals with mild AD.
PMCID: PMC4154596  PMID: 24852459
functional MRI; functional connectivity; gPPI; episodic memory; biomarker; dementia
2.  Template based rotation: A method for functional connectivity analysis with a priori templates☆ 
NeuroImage  2014;102(0 2):620-636.
Functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) is a powerful tool for understanding the network level organization of the brain in research settings and is increasingly being used to study large-scale neuronal network degeneration in clinical trial settings. Presently, a variety of techniques, including seed-based correlation analysis and group independent components analysis (with either dual regression or back projection) are commonly employed to compute functional connectivity metrics. In the present report, we introduce template based rotation,1 a novel analytic approach optimized for use with a priori network parcellations, which may be particularly useful in clinical trial settings. Template based rotation was designed to leverage the stable spatial patterns of intrinsic connectivity derived from out-of-sample datasets by mapping data from novel sessions onto the previously defined a priori templates. We first demonstrate the feasibility of using previously defined a priori templates in connectivity analyses, and then compare the performance of template based rotation to seed based and dual regression methods by applying these analytic approaches to an fMRI dataset of normal young and elderly subjects. We observed that template based rotation and dual regression are approximately equivalent in detecting fcMRI differences between young and old subjects, demonstrating similar effect sizes for group differences and similar reliability metrics across 12 cortical networks. Both template based rotation and dual-regression demonstrated larger effect sizes and comparable reliabilities as compared to seed based correlation analysis, though all three methods yielded similar patterns of network differences. When performing inter-network and sub-network connectivity analyses, we observed that template based rotation offered greater flexibility, larger group differences, and more stable connectivity estimates as compared to dual regression and seed based analyses. This flexibility owes to the reduced spatial and temporal orthogonality constraints of template based rotation as compared to dual regression. These results suggest that template based rotation can provide a useful alternative to existing fcMRI analytic methods, particularly in clinical trial settings where predefined outcome measures and conserved network descriptions across groups are at a premium.
PMCID: PMC4252576  PMID: 25150630
3.  Midlife measurements of white matter microstructure predict subsequent regional white matter atrophy in healthy adults 
Human brain mapping  2013;35(5):2044-2054.
While age-related brain changes are becoming better understood, midlife patterns of change are still in need of characterization, and longitudinal studies are lacking. The aim of this study was to determine if baseline fractional anisotropy (FA), obtained from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) predicts volume change over a four-year interval.
Experimental design
Forty-four cognitively healthy middle-age adults underwent baseline DTI and longitudinal T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Tensor Based Morphometry methods were used to evaluate volume change over time. FA values were extracted from regions of interest that included the cingulum, entorhinal white matter, and the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. Baseline FA was used as a predictor variable, while gray and white matter atrophy rates as indexed by Tensor Based Morphometry were the dependent variables.
Principal observations
Over a four-year period, participants showed significant contraction of white matter, especially in frontal, temporal, and cerebellar regions (p<0.05, corrected for multiple comparisons). Baseline FA in entorhinal white matter, genu, and splenium, was associated with longitudinal rates of atrophy in regions that included the superior longitudinal fasciculus, anterior corona radiata, temporal stem, and white matter of the inferior temporal gyrus (p<0.001, uncorrected for multiple comparisons).
Brain change with aging is characterized by extensive shrinkage of white matter. Baseline white matter microstructure as indexed by DTI was associated with some of the observed regional volume loss. The findings suggest that both white matter volume loss and microstructural alterations should be considered more prominently in models of aging and neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3895105  PMID: 23861348
aging; fractional anisotropy; microstructure; atrophy; longitudinal; diffusion tensor imaging; tensor-based morphometry
4.  Amyloid Deposition Is Linked to Aberrant Entorhinal Activity among Cognitively Normal Older Adults 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(15):5200-5210.
Normal aging is often difficult to distinguish from the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease. Years before clinical memory deficits manifest, amyloid-β deposits in the cortex in many older individuals. Neuroimaging studies indicate that a set of densely connected neocortical regions, referred to as the default network, is especially vulnerable to amyloid-β deposition. Yet, the impact of amyloid-β on age-related changes within the medial temporal lobe (MTL) memory system is less clear. Here we demonstrate that cognitively normal older humans, compared with young adults, show reduced ability to modulate hippocampal activations and entorhinal deactivations during an episodic memory task. Among older adults, amyloid-β deposition was associated with failure to modulate activity in entorhinal cortex, but not hippocampus. Furthermore, we show that entorhinal regions demonstrating amyloid-β-related dysfunction are directly connected to the neocortical regions of the default network. Together these findings link neocortical amyloid-β deposition to neuronal dysfunction specifically in entorhinal cortex, while aging is associated with more widespread functional changes across the MTL.
PMCID: PMC3983800  PMID: 24719099
amyloid; default network; entorhinal cortex; fMRI; memory; preclinical Alzheimer's disease
5.  Coevolution of brain structures in amnestic mild cognitive impairment 
NeuroImage  2012;0:449-456.
Network accounts of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), based on cross-sectional brain imaging observations, postulate that the biological course of the disease is characterized by coordinated spatial patterns of brain change to distributed cognitive networks. This study tests this conjecture by quantifying inter-regional covariance in cortical gray matter atrophy rates in 317 Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative participants who were clinically diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment at baseline and underwent serial MRI at 6-month intervals over the course of 2 years. A factor analysis model identified five factors (i.e. groupings of regions) that exhibited highly correlated rates of atrophy. Four groupings approximately corresponded to coordinated change within the posterior default mode network, prefrontal cortex, medial temporal lobe, and regions largely spared by the early pathological course of AD (i.e., sensorimotor and occipital cortex), while the fifth grouping represented diffuse, global atrophy. The data-driven observation of “frontal aging” superimposed upon medial temporal atrophy typical of early AD and default mode network changes supports the view that in individuals at high risk of eventual clinical AD, multiple patterns of distributed neuronal death corresponding to multiple biological substrates may be active.
PMCID: PMC3593811  PMID: 23103689
MRI parcellation; longitudinal cortical change; Alzheimer’s disease; exploratory factor analysis; distributed networks
6.  The Effects of Methylphenidate on Cognitive Control in Active Methamphetamine Dependence Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging 
Methamphetamine (MA) dependence is associated with cognitive deficits. Methylphenidate (MPH) has been shown to improve inhibitory control in healthy and cocaine-dependent subjects. This study aimed to understand the neurophysiological effects before and after acute MPH administration in active MA-dependent and control subjects. Fifteen MA-dependent and 18 control subjects aged 18–46 years were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after either a single oral dose of MPH (18 mg) or placebo while performing a color-word Stroop task. Baseline accuracy was lower (p = 0.026) and response time (RT) was longer (p < 0.0001) for the incongruent compared to congruent condition, demonstrating the task probed cognitive control. Increased activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and parietal cortex during the incongruent and Stroop effect conditions, respectively was observed in MA-dependent compared to control subjects (p < 0.05), suggesting the need to recruit neural resources within these regions for conflict resolution. Post- compared to pre-MPH treatment, increased RT and DLPFC activation for the Stroop effect were observed in MA-dependent subjects (p < 0.05). In comparison to MPH-treated controls and placebo-treated MA-dependent subjects, MPH-treated MA-dependent subjects showed decreased activation of parietal and occipital regions during the incongruent and Stroop effect conditions (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that in MA-dependent subjects, MPH facilitated increased recruitment of the DLPFC for Stroop conflict resolution, and a decreased need for recruitment of neural resources in parietal and occipital regions compared to the other groups, while maintaining a comparable level of task performance to that achieved pre-drug administration. Due to the small sample size, the results from this study are preliminary; however, they inform us about the effects of MPH on the neural correlates of cognitive control in active MA-dependent subjects.
PMCID: PMC3944404  PMID: 24639656
cognitive control; BOLD; drug dependence; fMRI; methamphetamine; methylphenidate; Stroop
7.  Cortical Signatures of Cognition and their Relationship to Alzheimer’s Disease 
Brain imaging and behavior  2012;6(4):584-598.
Recent changes in diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) state that biomarkers can enhance certainty in a diagnosis of AD. In the present study, we combined cognitive function and brain morphology, a potential imaging biomarker, to predict conversion from mild cognitive impairment to AD. We identified four biomarkers, or cortical signatures of cognition (CSC), from regressions of cortical thickness on neuropsychological factors representing memory, executive function/processing speed, language, and visuospatial function among participants in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Neuropsychological factor scores were created from a previously validated multidimensional factor structure of the neuropsychological battery in ADNI. Mean thickness of each CSC at the baseline study visit was used to evaluate risk of conversion to clinical AD among participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and rate of decline on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB) score. Of 307 MCI participants, 119 converted to AD. For all domain-specific CSC, a one standard deviation thinner cortical thickness was associated with an approximately 50% higher hazard of conversion and an increase of approximately 0.30 points annually on the CDR-SB. In combined models with a domain-specific CSC and neuropsychological factor score, both CSC and factor scores predicted conversion to AD and increasing clinical severity. As structural magnetic resonance imaging becomes more clinically routine and time-effective than neuropsychological testing, these signatures can be used as biomarkers of conversion to AD andincreasing clinical severity.
PMCID: PMC3553578  PMID: 22718430
MRI; Freesurfer; cortical thickness; ADNI; cognition; brain mapping
8.  The encoding/retrieval flip: Interactions between memory performance and memory stage and relationship to intrinsic cortical networks 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2013;25(7):1163-1179.
Functional MRI (fMRI) studies have linked the posteromedial cortex to episodic learning (encoding) and remembering (retrieval) processes. The posteromedial cortex is considered part of the default network and tends to deactivate during encoding, but activate during retrieval, a pattern known as the encoding/retrieval flip. Yet, the exact relationship between the neural correlates of memory performance (hit/miss) and memory stage (encoding/retrieval) and the extent of overlap with intrinsic cortical networks remains to be elucidated. Using task-based fMRI, we isolated the pattern of activity associated with memory performance, memory stage and the interaction between both. Using resting-state fMRI, we identified which intrinsic large-scale functional networks overlapped with regions showing task-induced effects. Our results demonstrated an effect of successful memory performance in regions associated with the control network and an effect of unsuccessful memory performance in the ventral attention network. We found an effect of memory retrieval in brain regions that span the default and control networks. Finally, we found an interaction between memory performance and memory stage in brain regions associated with the default network, including the posteromedial cortex, posterior parietal cortex and parahippocampal cortex. We discuss these findings in relation to the encoding/retrieval flip. In general, the findings demonstrate that task-induced effects cut across intrinsic cortical networks. Furthermore, regions within the default network display functional dissociations and this may have implications for the neural underpinnings of age-related memory disorders.
PMCID: PMC3730829  PMID: 23384193
9.  A Generalized Form of Context-Dependent Psychophysiological Interactions (gPPI): A Comparison to Standard Approaches 
Neuroimage  2012;61(4):1277-1286.
Functional MRI (fMRI) allows one to study task-related regional responses and task-dependent connectivity analysis using psychophysiological interaction (PPI) methods. The latter affords the additional opportunity to understand how brain regions interact in a task-dependent manner. The current implementation of PPI in Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM8) is configured primarily to assess connectivity differences between two task conditions, when in practice fMRI tasks frequently employ more than two conditions. Here we evaluate how a generalized form of context-dependent PPI (gPPI;, which is configured to automatically accommodate more than two task conditions in the same PPI model by spanning the entire experimental space, compares to the standard implementation in SPM8. These comparisons are made using both simulations and an empirical dataset. In the simulated dataset, we compare the interaction beta estimates to their expected values and model fit using the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC). We found that interaction beta estimates in gPPI were robust to different simulated data models, were not different from the expected beta value, and had better model fits than when using standard PPI (sPPI) methods. In the empirical dataset, we compare the model fit of the gPPI approach to sPPI. We found that the gPPI approach improved model fit compared to sPPI. There were several regions that became non-significant with gPPI. These regions all showed significantly better model fits with gPPI. Also, there were several regions where task-dependent connectivity was only detected using gPPI methods, also with improved model fit. Regions that were detected with all methods had more similar model fits. These results suggest that gPPI may have greater sensitivity and specificity than standard implementation in SPM. This notion is tempered slightly as there is no gold standard; however, data simulations with a known outcome support our conclusions about gPPI. In sum, the generalized form of context-dependent PPI approach has increased flexibility of statistical modeling, and potentially improves model fit, specificity to true negative findings, and sensitivity to true positive findings.
PMCID: PMC3376181  PMID: 22484411
fMRI; functional connectivity; effective connectivity; PPI; psychophysiological interactions; context-dependent connectivity; brain mapping
10.  Cortical Activity to Vibrotactile Stimulation: An fMRI Study in Blind and Sighted Individuals 
Human brain mapping  2004;23(4):210-228.
Blind individuals show visual cortex activity during Braille reading. We examined whether such cross-modal activations reflect processing somatosensory stimuli independent of language by identifying cortical activity during a one-back vibrotactile matching task. Three groups (sighted, early-onset, and late-onset [>12 years] blind) detected whether paired vibrations (25 and 100 Hz), delivered to the right index finger, differed in frequency. Three successive paired vibrations, followed by a no-stimulation interval, were presented in a long event-related design. A fixed effects average z-score analysis showed increased activity throughout the visuotopic visual cortex, where it was mostly restricted to foveal and parafoveal eccentricities. Early blind showed the most extensive distribution of activity. Late blind exhibited activity mostly in similar regions but with declining response magnitudes with age of blindness onset. Three sighted individuals had suprathreshold activity in V1 but negative responses elsewhere in visual cortex. Mixed effects ANOVA confirmed group distinctions in defined regions (V1, V3, V4v, V7, LOC, and MT). These results suggest cross-modal adaptation to tactile stimulation in visual cortex independent of language processes. All groups showed increased activity in left primary (S1) and bilateral second somatosensory areas, but without response magnitude differences between groups throughout sensorimotor cortex. Early blind showed the greatest spatial extent of S1 activity. Blind participants had more extensive bilateral activity in anterior intraparietal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus. Extensive usage of touch in Braille reading may underlie observed S1 expansions in the reading finger representation. In addition, learned attentiveness to touch may explain similar expansion of parietal tactile attention regions.
PMCID: PMC3697024  PMID: 15449356
blindness; human; magnetic resonance imaging; visual cortex/*physiology
11.  Visual cortex activation in late-onset, Braille naive blind individuals: An fMRI study during semantic and phonological tasks with heard words 
Neuroscience letters  2005;392(0):38-42.
Visual cortex activity in the blind has been shown in Braille literate people, which raise the question of whether Braille literacy influences cross-modal reorganization. We used fMRI to examine visual cortex activation during semantic and phonological tasks with auditory presentation of words in two late-onset blind individuals who lacked Braille literacy. Multiple visual cortical regions were activated in the Braille naive individuals. Positive BOLD responses were noted in lower tier visuotopic (e.g., V1, V2, VP, and V3) and several higher tier visual areas (e.g., V4v, V8, and BA 37). Activity was more extensive and cross-correlation magnitudes were greater during the semantic compared to the phonological task. These results with Braille naive individuals plausibly suggest that visual deprivation alone induces visual cortex reorganization. Cross-modal reorganization of lower tier visual areas may be recruited by developing skills in attending to selected non-visual inputs (e.g., Braille literacy, enhanced auditory skills). Such learning might strengthen remote connections with multisensory cortical areas. Of necessity, the Braille naive participants must attend to auditory stimulation for language. We hypothesize that learning to attend to non-visual inputs probably strengthens the remaining active synapses following visual deprivation, and thereby, increases cross-modal activation of lower tier visual areas when performing highly demanding non-visual tasks of which reading Braille is just one example.
PMCID: PMC3684956  PMID: 16198053
Blindness; Human; Magnetic resonance imaging; Visual cortex/*physiology
12.  Tracking Cognitive Change over 24 Weeks with Longitudinal Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease 
Neuro-Degenerative Diseases  2012;9(4):176-186.
Previous studies have revealed that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal in specific brain regions correlates with cross-sectional performance on standardized clinical trial measures in Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, the relationship between longitudinal change in fMRI-BOLD signal and neuropsychological performance remains unknown. Objective: To identify changes in regional fMRI-BOLD activity that tracks change in neuropsychological performance in mild AD dementia over 6 months.
Twenty-four subjects (mean age 71.6) with mild AD dementia (mean Mini Mental State Examination 21.7, Global Clinical Dementia Rating 1.0) on stable donepezil dosing participated in two task-related fMRI sessions consisting of a face-name paired associative encoding memory paradigm 24 weeks apart during a randomized placebo-controlled pharmaco-fMRI drug study. Regression analysis was used to identify regions where the change in fMRI activity for Novel > Repeated stimulus contrast was associated with the change scores on postscan memory tests and the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test (FCSRT).
Correlations between changes in postscan memory accuracy and changes in fMRI activity were observed in regions including the angular gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus and cerebellum. Correlations between changes in FCSRT-free recall and changes in fMRI were observed in regions including the inferior parietal lobule, precuneus, hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus.
Changes in encoding-related fMRI activity in regions implicated in mnemonic networks correlated with changes in psychometric measures of episodic memory retrieval performed outside the scanner. These exploratory results support the potential of fMRI activity to track cognitive change and detect signals of short-term pharmacologic effect in early-phase AD studies.
PMCID: PMC3369254  PMID: 22456451
Functional MRI; Clinical trial; Episodic memory; Biomarker; Dementia
13.  Current Status and Future Perspectives of Magnetic Resonance High-Field Imaging: A Summary 
PMCID: PMC3586777  PMID: 22548938
Magnetic resonance imaging; High-field MR imaging; Current status; Future perspectives
15.  Differential psychophysiological interactions of insular subdivisions during varied oropharyngeal swallowing tasks 
Physiological Reports  2013;2(3):e00239.
The insula is a highly integrated cortical region both anatomically and functionally. It has been shown to have cognitive, social–emotional, gustatory, and sensorimotor functions. Insular involvement in both normal and abnormal swallowing behavior is well established, yet its functional connectivity is unclear. Studies of context‐dependent connectivity, or the connectivity during different task conditions, have the potential to reveal information about synaptic function of the insula. The goal of this study was to examine the functional connectivity of specific insular regions (ventral anterior, dorsal anterior, and posterior) with distant cortical regions during four swallowing conditions (water, sour, e‐stim, and visual biofeedback) using generalized psychophysiological interactions (gPPI). In 19 healthy adults, we found that the visual biofeedback condition was associated with the most and strongest increases in functional connectivity. The posterior insula/rolandic operculum regions had the largest clusters of increases in functional connectivity, but the ventral anterior insula was functionally connected to a more diverse array of cortical regions. Also, laterality assessments showed left lateralized increases in swallowing functional connectivity. Our results are aligned with reports about the insula's interconnectivity and extensive involvement in multisensory and cognitive tasks.
The goal of this study was to examine the functional connectivity of specific insular regions (ventral anterior, dorsal anterior, and posterior) with distant cortical regions during four swallowing conditions (water, sour, e‐stim, and visual biofeedback) using generalized psychophysiological interactions (gPPI). In 19 healthy adults, we found that the visual biofeedback condition was associated with the most functional connectivity increases. The posterior insula/rolandic operculum regions had the largest clusters of functional connectivity, but the ventral anterior insula was functionally connected to a more diverse array of cortical regions.
PMCID: PMC4002228  PMID: 24760502
Biofeedback; connectivity; deglutition; gPPI; laterality; psychophysiological interactions; taste
After traumatic injury the brain undergoes a prolonged period of degenerative change that is paradoxically accompanied by cognitive recovery. The spatiotemporal pattern of atrophy and the specific relationships of atrophy to cognitive changes are ill understood. The present study used tensor based morphometry and neuropsychological testing to examine brain volume loss in 17 TBI patients and 13 controls over a four year period. Patients were scanned at two months, one year and four years post-injury. High-dimensional warping procedures were used to create change maps of each subject’s brain for each of the two intervals. TBI patients experienced volume loss in both cortical areas and white matter regions during the first interval. We also observed continuing volume loss in extensive regions of white matter during the second interval. Neuropsychological correlations indicated that cognitive tasks were associated with subsequent volume loss in task-relevant regions. The extensive volume loss in brain white matter observed well beyond the first year post-injury suggests that the injured brain remains malleable for an extended period, and the neuropsychological relationships suggest that this volume loss may be associated with subtle cognitive improvements.
PMCID: PMC3571099  PMID: 22883443
longitudinal studies; recovery of function; brain injuries; humans; neurosciences; magnetic resonance imaging; chronic brain injuries; brain mapping; apoptosis; necrosis
17.  Longitudinal change in neuropsychological performance using latent growth models: a study of mild cognitive impairment 
Brain imaging and behavior  2012;6(4):540-550.
The goal of the current study was to examine cognitive change in both healthy controls (n=229) and individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (n=397) from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). We applied latent growth modeling to examine baseline and longitudinal change over 36 months in five cognitive factors derived from the ADNI neuropsychological test battery (memory, executive function/processing speed, language, attention and visuospatial). At baseline, MCI patients demonstrated lower performance on all of the five cognitive factors when compared to controls. Both controls and MCI patients declined on memory over 36 months; however, the MCI patients declined at a significantly faster rate than controls. The MCI patients also declined over 36 months on the remaining four cognitive factors. In contrast, the controls did not exhibit significant change over 36 months on the non-memory cognitive factors. Within the MCI group, executive function declined faster than memory, while the other factor scores changed slower than memory over time. These findings suggest different patterns of cognitive change in healthy older adults and MCI patients. The findings also suggest that, when compared with memory, executive function declines faster than other cognitive factors in patients with MCI. Thus, decline in non-memory domains may be an important feature for distinguishing healthy older adults and persons with MCI.
PMCID: PMC3532521  PMID: 22562439
ADNI; Neuropsychology; Cognition; Mild cognitive impairment; Cognitive change; Executive function
18.  Controllability Modulates the Anticipatory Response in the Human Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex 
Research has consistently shown that control is critical to psychological functioning, with perceived lack of control considered to play a crucial role in the manifestation of symptoms in psychiatric disorders. In a model of behavioral control based on non-human animal work, Maier et al. (2006) posited that the presence of control activates areas of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which in turn inhibit the normative stress response in the dorsal raphe nucleus and amygdala. To test Maier’s model in humans, we investigated the effects of control over potent aversive stimuli by presenting video clips of snakes to 21 snake phobics who were otherwise healthy with no comorbid psychopathologies. Based on prior research documenting that disrupted neural processing during the anticipation of adverse events can be influenced by different forms of cognitive processing such as perceptions of control, analyses focused on the anticipatory activity preceding the videos. We found that phobics exhibited greater vmPFC activity during the anticipation of snake videos when they had control over whether the videos were presented as compared to when they had no control over the presentation of the videos. In addition, observed functional connectivity between the vmPFC and the amygdala is consistent with previous work documenting vmPFC inhibition of the amygdala. Our results provide evidence to support the extension of Maier’s model of behavioral control to include anticipatory function in humans.
PMCID: PMC3582324  PMID: 23550176
controllability; anticipation; vmPFC; amygdala; fMRI; PPI; phobia
19.  Interactions between Affective and Cognitive Processing Systems in Problematic Gamblers: A Functional Connectivity Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49923.
Motivational and cognitive abnormalities are frequently reported in pathological gambling. However, studies simultaneously investigating motivational and cognitive processing in problematic gamblers are lacking, limiting our understanding of the interplay between these systems in problematic gambling. Studies in non-clinical samples indicate that interactions between dorsal “executive” and ventral “affective” processing systems are necessary for adequate responses in various emotive situations.
We conducted a generalized Psycho-Physiological Interaction (gPPI) analysis to assess the influence of affective stimuli on changes in functional connectivity associated with response inhibition in 16 treatment seeking problematic gamblers (PRGs) and 15 healthy controls (HCs) using an affective Go-NoGo fMRI paradigm including neutral, gambling-related, positive and negative pictures as neutral and affective conditions.
Across groups, task performance accuracy during neutral inhibition trials was positively correlated with functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right middle frontal cortex. During inhibition in the gambling condition, only in PRGs accuracy of task performance was positively correlated with functional connectivity within sub-regions of the dorsal executive system. Group interactions showed that during neutral inhibition, HCs exhibited greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex than PRGs. In contrast, during inhibition in the positive condition, PRGs compared to HCs showed greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex. During inhibition trials in the negative condition, a stronger functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right anterior cingulate cortex in PRGs compared to HCs was present. There were no group interactions during inhibition in the gambling condition.
During gamble inhibition PRGs seem to benefit more from functional connectivity within the dorsal executive system than HCs, because task accuracy in this condition in PRGs is positively correlated with functional connectivity, although the groups show similar connectivity patterns during gamble inhibition. Greater functional connectivity between the ventral affective system and the dorsal executive system in PRGs in the affective conditions compared to HCs, suggests facilitation of the dorsal executive system when affective stimuli are present specifically in PRGs.
PMCID: PMC3509135  PMID: 23209619
20.  Mapping the structural brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease: The independent contribution of two imaging modalities 
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  2011;26(Suppl 3):263-274.
The macrostructural atrophy of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been fully described. Current literature reports that also microstructural alterations occur in AD since the early stages. However, whether the microstructural changes offer unique information independent from macrostructural atrophy is unclear. Aim of this study is to define the independent contribution of macrostructural atrophy and microstructural alterations on AD pathology.
The study involved 17 moderate to severe AD patients and 13 healthy controls. All participants underwent conventional and non conventional MRI (respectively, diffusion-weighted and T1-weighted MR scanning). We processed the images in order to obtain gray and white matter volumes to assess macrostructural atrophy, and fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity to assess the microstructural damage. Analyses of covariance between patients and controls were performed to investigate microstructural tissue damage independent of macrostructural tissue loss, and viceversa, voxel by voxel.
We observed microstructural differences, independent of macrostructural atrophy, between patients and controls in temporal and retrosplenial regions, as well as in thalamus, corticopontine tracts, striatum and precentral gyrus. Volumetric differences, independent of microstructural alterations, were observed mainly in the entorhinal cortex, posterior cingulum, and splenium.
Measures of microstructural damage provide unique information not obtainable with volumetric mapping in regions known to be pivotal in AD as well as in others thought to be spared. This work expands the understanding of the topography of pathological changes in AD that can be captured with imaging techniques.
PMCID: PMC3267543  PMID: 21971466
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI); Alzheimer’s disease (AD); Microstructure; Fractional Anisotropy (FA); Mean Diffusivity (MD)
21.  Swallowing intentional off-state in aging and Alzheimer’s disease: preliminary study 
Frontal cortical activation is elicited when subjects have been instructed not to initiate a sensorimotor task. The goal of this preliminary fMRI study was to examine BOLD response to a ”Do Not Swallow” instruction (an intentional “off-state) in the context of other swallowing tasks in 3 groups of participants (healthy young, healthy old, and early Alzheimer’s or AD). Overall, the older group had larger, bilaterally active clusters in the cortex, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex during the intentional swallowing off-state – this region is commonly active in response inhibition studies. Disease-related differences were evident where the AD group had significantly greater BOLD response in the insula/operculum than the old. These findings have significant clinical implications for control of swallowing across the age span and in neurodegenerative disease. Greater activation in the insula/operculum for the AD group supports previous studies where this region is associated with initiating swallowing. The AD group may have required more effort to “turn off” swallowing centers to reach the intentional swallowing off-state.
PMCID: PMC3171582  PMID: 21654061
Alzheimer’s disease; fMRI; deglutition; cognitive aging
22.  Rhesus Macaque Brain Morphometry: A Methodological Comparison of Voxel-Wise Approaches 
Methods (San Diego, Calif.)  2009;50(3):157-165.
Voxel-based morphometry studies have become increasingly common in human neuroimaging over the past several years; however, few studies have utilized this method to study morphometry changes in non-human primates. Here we describe the application of voxel-wise morphometry methods to the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) using the 112RM-SL template and priors (McLaren et al. 2009) and as an illustrative example we describe age-associated changes in grey matter morphometry. Specifically, we evaluated the unified segmentation routine implemented using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) software and the FMRIB’s Automated Segmentation Tool (FAST) in the FMRIB Software Library (FSL); the effect of varying the smoothing kernel; and the effect of the normalization routine. We found that when studying non-human primates, brain images need less smoothing than in human studies, 2–4mm FWHM. Using flow field deformations (DARTEL) improved inter-subject alignment leading to results that were more likely due to morphometry differences as opposed to registration differences.
PMCID: PMC2828534  PMID: 19883763
rhesus macaque; MRI; morphometry; Macaca mulatta; brain mapping; aging; non-human primates
23.  Microstructural diffusion changes are independent of macrostructural volume loss in moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease 
Although it is established that Alzheimer's disease (AD) leads to cerebral macrostructural atrophy, microstructural diffusion changes have also been observed, but it is not yet known whether these changes offer unique information about the disease pathology. Thus, a multimodal imaging study was conducted to determine the independent contribution of each modality in moderate to severe AD.
17 patients with moderate-severe AD and 13 healthy volunteers underwent diffusion-weighted and T1-weighted MR scanning. Images were processed to obtain measures of macrostructural atrophy (GM and WM volumes) and microstructural damage (fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity). Microstructural diffusion changes independent of macrostructural loss were investigated using an ANCOVA where macrostructural maps were used as voxel-wise covariates. The reverse ANCOVA model was also assessed, where macrostructural loss was the dependent variable and microstructural DTI maps were the imaging covariates.
Diffusion differences between patients and controls were observed after controlling for volumetric differences in medial temporal, retrosplenial regions, anterior commissure, corona radiata, internal capsule, thalamus, corticopontine tracts, cerebral peduncle, striatum and precentral gyrus. Independent volumetric differences were observed in the entorhinal cortex, inferior temporal lobe, posterior cingulate cortex, splenium and cerebellum.
While it is well known that AD is associated with pronounced volumetric change, this study suggests that measures of microstructure provide unique information not obtainable with volumetric mapping in regions known to be pivotal in AD and in those thought to be spared. As such this work provides great understanding of the topography of pathological changes in AD that can be captured with imaging.
PMCID: PMC2889147  PMID: 20157252
Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI); Alzheimer's disease (AD); Microstructure; Fractional Anisotropy (FA); Mean Diffusivity (MD)
24.  Early deficits in cortical control of swallowing in Alzheimer’s disease 
Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD  2010;19(4):1185-1197.
The goal of this study was to determine whether functional changes in cortical control of swallowing are evident in early Alzheimer’s disease (AD), before dysphagia (swallowing impairment) is evident. Cortical function was compared between an early AD group and a group of age-matched controls during swallowing. Swallowing oropharyngeal biomechanics examined from videofluoroscopic recordings were also obtained to more comprehensively characterize changes in swallowing associated with early AD. Our neuroimaging results show that the AD group had significantly lower BOLD response in many cortical areas that are traditionally involved in normal swallowing (i.e. pre and postcentral gyri, Rolandic and frontal opercula). There were no regions where the AD group recruited more brain activity than the healthy controls during swallowing and only 13% of all active voxels were unique to the AD group, even at this early stage. This suggests that the AD group is not recruiting new regions, nor are they compensating within regions that are active during swallowing. In videofluoroscopic measures, the AD group had significantly reduced hyo-laryngeal elevation than the controls. Although, swallowing impairment is usually noted in the late stages of AD, changes in cortical control of swallowing may begin long before dysphagia becomes apparent.
PMCID: PMC2891325  PMID: 20308785
deglutition; Alzheimer’s disease; neurophysiology; neuroimaging; videofluoroscopy
25.  A Population-Average MRI-Based Atlas Collection of the Rhesus Macaque 
NeuroImage  2008;45(1):52-59.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of non-human primates are becoming increasingly common; however, the well-developed voxel-based methodologies used in human studies are not readily applied to non-human primates. In the present study, we create a population-average MRI-based atlas collection for the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) that can be used with common brain mapping packages such as SPM or FSL. In addition to creating a publicly available T1-weighted atlas (, probabilistic tissue classification maps and T2-weighted atlases were also created. Theses atlases are aligned to the MRI volume from the Saleem-Logothetis (2006) atlas providing an explicit link to histological sections. Additionally, we have created a transform to integrate these atlases with the F99 surface-based atlas in CARET. It is anticipated that these tools will help facilitate voxel-based imaging methodologies in non-human primate species, which in turn may increase our understanding of brain function, development, and evolution.
PMCID: PMC2659879  PMID: 19059346
rhesus macaque; MRI; atlas; Macaca mulatta; priors; brain mapping; probabilistic

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