20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE), an arachidonic acid metabolite known to be produced after cerebral ischemia, has been implicated in ischemic and reperfusion injury by mediating vasoconstriction. To develop a positron emission tomography (PET) probe for 20-HETE synthase imaging, which might be useful for monitoring vasoconstrictive processes in patients with brain ischemia, we synthesized a 11C-labeled specific 20-HETE synthase inhibitor, N′(4-dimethylaminohexyloxy)phenyl imidazole ([11C]TROA). Autoradiographic study showed that [11C]TROA has high-specific binding in the kidney and liver consistent with the previously reported distribution of 20-HETE synthase. Using transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats, PET study showed significant increases in the binding of [11C]TROA in the ipsilateral hemisphere of rat brains after 7 and 10 days, which was blocked by co-injection of excess amounts of TROA (10 mg/kg). The increased [11C]TROA binding on the ipsilateral side returned to basal levels within 14 days. In addition, quantitative real-time PCR revealed that increased expression of 20-HETE synthase was only shown on the ipsilateral side on day 7. These results indicate that [11C]TROA might be a useful PET probe for imaging of 20-HETE synthase in patients with cerebral ischemia.
20-HETE; 20-HETE synthase; ischemia; microglia; PK11195; transient middle cerebral artery occlusion
We aimed to determine the brain areas related to food motivation and to examine individual variability using magnetoencephalography (MEG) during a fasted state. Correlation analysis was performed between MEG responses and the subscale and aggregated scores of the Power of Food Scale (PFS) and body mass index (BMI).
Eight healthy, right-handed males [age, 29.0±10.4 years; BMI, 22.7±2.4 kg/m2 (mean ±SD)] were enrolled. The MEG experiment consisted of 2 food sessions and 2 control sessions in an alternating and counterbalanced order. During the MEG recordings, participants viewed a set of food pictures (food session) or mosaic pictures (control session) projected on a screen.
When participants viewed pictures of food items, we were able to estimate equivalent current dipoles (ECDs) in the insular cortex in all participants peaked approximately 300 ms after the onset of each picture presentation. When they viewed mosaic pictures, 1 of 8 participants exhibited corresponding ECDs. Of note, significant correlations were observed between the intensities of the MEG responses and the subscale scores of Factor 1 (food available) (r=0.846, P=0.008) and those of Factor 2 (food present) (r=0.875, P=0.004), the aggregated scores of PFS (r=0.820, P=0.013), and BMI (r=0.898, P=0.002).
We demonstrated the involvement of the immediate neural responses of the insular cortex in individual differences in appetitive motivation. The signal intensities of the insular cortex were associated with self-awareness of appetitive motive.
appetitive motives; immediate neural responses; individual variability; magnetoencephalography (MEG); Power of Food Scale (PFS); insular cortex
Central inhibition plays a pivotal role in determining physical performance during physical fatigue. Classical conditioning of central inhibition is believed to be associated with the pathophysiology of chronic fatigue. We tried to determine whether classical conditioning of central inhibition can really occur and to clarify the neural mechanisms of central inhibition related to classical conditioning during physical fatigue using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Eight right-handed volunteers participated in this study. We used metronome sounds as conditioned stimuli and maximum handgrip trials as unconditioned stimuli to cause central inhibition. Participants underwent MEG recording during imagery of maximum grips of the right hand guided by metronome sounds for 10 min. Thereafter, fatigue-inducing maximum handgrip trials were performed for 10 min; the metronome sounds were started 5 min after the beginning of the handgrip trials. The next day, neural activities during imagery of maximum grips of the right hand guided by metronome sounds were measured for 10 min. Levels of fatigue sensation and sympathetic nerve activity on the second day were significantly higher relative to those of the first day. Equivalent current dipoles (ECDs) in the posterior cingulated cortex (PCC), with latencies of approximately 460 ms, were observed in all the participants on the second day, although ECDs were not identified in any of the participants on the first day. We demonstrated that classical conditioning of central inhibition can occur and that the PCC is involved in the neural substrates of central inhibition related to classical conditioning during physical fatigue.
Fatigue is a common symptom in modern society. There has been a recent resurgence of interest in traditional remedies for fatigue. Chicken essence, which is rich in anserine and carnosine, has been widely taken in Asian countries as a traditional remedy with various aims, including attenuation of physical and mental fatigue. However, the evidence for its efficacy specifically for mental fatigue remains unclear. We examined the effect of essence of chicken on mental fatigue in humans, using our established fatigue-inducing task and evaluation methods.
In this placebo-controlled crossover study, 20 healthy male volunteers were randomized to receive daily oral administration of essence of chicken or placebo drink provided by Cerebos Pacific Ltd. via Suntory holdings Ltd. for 4 weeks. The participants performed 2-back test trials as a fatigue-inducing mental task and then had a rest session. Just before and after each session, they completed cognitive task trials focusing on selective attention to evaluate the level of mental fatigue.
After essence of chicken intake for 1 and 4 weeks, the reaction times on the cognitive task trials after the rest session were significantly shorter than those at baseline, and significant changes were not observed with placebo intake. The reaction times before and after the fatigue-inducing session were not altered by either essence of chicken or placebo intake.
We showed that daily intake of essence of chicken could be effective for the recovery from mental fatigue and is a promising candidate for use as an anti-fatigue food.
essence of chicken; humans; mental fatigue; recovery; selective attention
It has been proposed that an inappropriately conditioned fatigue sensation could be one cause of chronic fatigue. Although classical conditioning of the fatigue sensation has been reported in rats, there have been no reports in humans. Our aim was to examine whether classical conditioning of the mental fatigue sensation can take place in humans and to clarify the neural mechanisms of fatigue sensation using magnetoencephalography (MEG).
Ten and 9 healthy volunteers participated in a conditioning and a control experiment, respectively. In the conditioning experiment, we used metronome sounds as conditioned stimuli and two-back task trials as unconditioned stimuli to cause fatigue sensation. Participants underwent MEG measurement while listening to the metronome sounds for 6 min. Thereafter, fatigue-inducing mental task trials (two-back task trials), which are demanding working-memory task trials, were performed for 60 min; metronome sounds were started 30 min after the start of the task trials (conditioning session). The next day, neural activities while listening to the metronome for 6 min were measured. Levels of fatigue sensation were also assessed using a visual analogue scale. In the control experiment, participants listened to the metronome on the first and second days, but they did not perform conditioning session. MEG was not recorded in the control experiment.
The level of fatigue sensation caused by listening to the metronome on the second day was significantly higher relative to that on the first day only when participants performed the conditioning session on the first day. Equivalent current dipoles (ECDs) in the insular cortex, with mean latencies of approximately 190 ms, were observed in six of eight participants after the conditioning session, although ECDs were not identified in any participant before the conditioning session.
We demonstrated that the metronome sounds can cause mental fatigue sensation as a result of repeated pairings of the sounds with mental fatigue and that the insular cortex is involved in the neural substrates of this phenomenon.
Fatigue sensation; Chronic fatigue syndrome; Classical conditioning; Magnetoencephalography (MEG); Equivalent current dipole (ECD)
We aimed to examine the association of appetitive motives with a non-exercise lifestyle, defined as exercising less than once per year, in a young adult population.
We asked university students to answer questions about their exercise habits. We also assessed their appetitive motives, with or without hunger, by using a simple questionnaire in a preliminary survey, and we assessed the hedonic motives to consume palatable foods by using the Power of Food Scale (PFS) in the main experiment.
On multivariate logistic regression analyses in the preliminary survey (n=119) adjusted for age, gender, and body mass index (BMI), appetitive motives under the condition of hunger were positively associated with the non-exercise lifestyle. In the main experiment (n=268), simple regression analyses revealed a positive association between the non-exercise lifestyle and the subscale scores of factor-2 of PFS related to physically present foods. On multiple regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, and BMI, the aggregated scores and the subscale scores of factor-2 of PFS were positively associated with the non-exercise lifestyle.
These findings suggest the intriguing possibility that appetitive motives under the condition “with hunger” and those “with hedonic consumption” can be suppressed even by infrequent exercise.
appetitive motives; power of food scale (PFS); non-exercise life style; physical inactivity; young adult population
Neurocognitive impairment is a feature of childhood chronic fatigue syndrome (CCFS). Several studies have demonstrated reduced attention control in CCFS patients in switching and divided attention tasks. In students, the extent of deterioration in task performance depends on the level of fatigue. Poor performance in switching and divided attention is common in both fatigued students and CCFS patients. Additionally, attentional functions show dramatic development from childhood to adolescence, suggesting that abnormal development of switching and divided attention may be induced by chronic fatigue. The brain structures associated with attentional control are situated in the frontal and parietal cortices, which are the last to mature, suggesting that severe fatigue in CCFS patients and students may inhibit normal structural and functional development in these regions. A combination of treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication is effective to improve attentional control processing in CCFS patients. Studies identifying the features of neurocognitive impairment in CCFS have improved our current understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms of CCFS.
childhood chronic fatigue syndrome; cognitive development; divided attention; event-related potential; functional magnetic resonance imaging; kana pick-out test; modified advanced trail making test; switching attention
Neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases progress slowly and steadily over years or decades. They show significant between-subject variation in progress and clinical symptoms, which makes it difficult to predict the course of long-term disease progression with or without treatments. Recent technical advances in biomarkers have facilitated earlier, preclinical diagnoses of neurodegeneration by measuring or imaging molecules linked to pathogenesis. However, there is no established “biomarker model” by which one can quantitatively predict the progress of neurodegeneration. Here, we show predictability of a model with risk-based kinetics of neurodegeneration, whereby neurodegeneration proceeds as probabilistic events depending on the risk.
We used five experimental glaucomatous animals, known for causality between the increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and neurodegeneration of visual pathways, and repeatedly measured IOP as well as white matter integrity by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) as a biomarker of axonal degeneration. The IOP in the glaucomatous eye was significantly increased than in normal and was varied across time and animals; thus we tested whether this measurement is useful to predict kinetics of the integrity. Among four kinds of models of neurodegeneration, constant-rate, constant-risk, variable-risk and heterogeneity models, goodness of fit of the model and F-test for model selection showed that the time course of optic nerve integrity was best explained by the variable-risk model, wherein neurodegeneration kinetics is expressed in an exponential function across cumulative risk based on measured IOP. The heterogeneity model with stretched exponential decay function also fit well to the data, but without statistical superiority to the variable-risk model. The variable-risk model also predicted the number of viable axons in the optic nerve, as assessed by immunohistochemistry, which was also confirmed to be correlated with the pre-mortem integrity of the optic nerve. In addition, the variable-risk model identified the disintegrity in the higher-order visual pathways, known to underlie the transsynaptic degeneration in this disease.
These findings indicate that the variable-risk model, using a risk-related biomarker, could predict the spatiotemporal progression of neurodegeneration. This model, virtually equivalent to survival analysis, may allow us to estimate possible effect of neuroprotection in delaying progress of neurodegeneration.
Diffusion tensor; Neurodegenerative mechanisms; Biomarker; Kinetic model; Glaucoma
Fatigue has a multi-factorial nature. We examined the effects of two types of mental fatigue on spontaneous oscillatory brain activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG).
Participants were randomly assigned to two groups in a single-blinded, crossover fashion to perform two types of mental fatigue-inducing experiments. Each experiment consisted of a 30-min fatigue-inducing 0- or 2-back test session and two evaluation sessions performed just before and after the fatigue-inducing mental task session.
After the 0-back test, decreased alpha power was indicated in the right angular gyrus and increased levels in the left middle and superior temporal gyrus, left postcentral gyrus, right superior frontal gyrus, left inferior frontal gyrus, and right medial frontal gyrus. After the 2-back test, decreased alpha power was indicated in the right middle and superior frontal gyrus and increased levels in the left inferior parietal and superior parietal lobules, right parahippocampal gyrus, right uncus, left postcentral gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and right inferior frontal gyrus. For beta power, increased power following the 0-back test was indicated in the left middle temporal gyrus, left superior frontal gyrus, left cingulate gyrus, and left precentral gyrus. After the 2-back test, decreased power was suggested in the left superior frontal gyrus and increased levels in the left middle temporal gyrus and left inferior parietal lobule. Some of these brain regions might be associated with task performance during the fatigue-inducing trials.
Two types of mental fatigue may produce different alterations of the spontaneous oscillatory MEG activities. Our findings would provide new perspectives on the neural mechanisms underlying mental fatigue.
Magnetoencephalography (MEG); Mental fatigue; n-back test visual analogue scale (VAS)
Numerous associations between brain-reactive antibodies and neurological or psychiatric symptoms have been proposed. Serum autoantibody against the muscarinic cholinergic receptor (mAChR) was increased in some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or psychiatric disease. We examined whether serum autoantibody against mAChR affected the central cholinergic system by measuring brain mAChR binding and acetylcholinesterase activity using positron emission tomography (PET) in CFS patients with positive [CFS(+)] and negative [CFS(−)] autoantibodies.
Five CFS(+) and six CFS(−) patients, as well as 11 normal control subjects underwent a series of PET measurements with N-[11C]methyl-3-piperidyl benzilate [11C](+)3-MPB for the mAChR binding and N-[11C]methyl-4-piperidyl acetate [11C]MP4A for acetylcholinesterase activity. Cognitive function of all subjects was assessed by neuropsychological tests. Although the brain [11C](+)3-MPB binding in CFS(−) patients did not differ from normal controls, CFS(+) patients showed significantly lower [11C](+)3-MPB binding than CFS(−) patients and normal controls. In contrast, the [11C]MP4A index showed no significant differences among these three groups. Neuropsychological measures were similar among groups.
The present results demonstrate that serum autoantibody against the mAChR can affect the brain mAChR without altering acetylcholinesterase activity and cognitive functions in CFS patients.
A depressive state is a common symptom in the elderly and often accompanies cognitive impairment. The coexistence of depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment is a serious problem, as it increases adverse outcomes for health, functional status, and mortality. It would thus be of great value to clarify the cognitive dysfunction associated with depressive symptoms. We aimed to identify the cognitive dysfunction, in particular, impairment of the response inhibition component of executive function, associated with depressive symptoms in elderly females using the Simple Color Reaction Test and Modified Stroop Color-Word Test.
The study group consisted of 35 elderly women. They performed cognitive function task trials for 9 min. Univariate logistic regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with the prevalence of the depressive state.
Longer reaction time and lower correction rate of response inhibition trials were related to the prevalence of the depressive symptoms.
Impaired function of response inhibition may be a specific feature of the depressive state. Our findings may help clarify the neural mechanisms underlying the depressive state of elderly females.
depressive symptom; elderly; female; response inhibition
Fatigue can be classified as mental and physical depending on its cause, and each
type of fatigue has a multi-factorial nature. We examined the effect of mental
fatigue on the central nervous system using electroencephalography (EEG) in eighteen
healthy male volunteers.
After enrollment, subjects were randomly assigned to two groups in a single-blinded,
crossover fashion to perform two types of mental fatigue-inducing experiments. Each
experiment consisted of four 30-min fatigue-inducing 0- or 2-back test sessions and
two evaluation sessions performed just before and after the fatigue-inducing
sessions. During the evaluation session, the participants were assessed using EEG.
Eleven electrodes were attached to the head skin, from positions F3, Fz, F4, C3, Cz,
C4, P3, Pz, P4, O1, and O2.
In the 2-back test, the beta power density on the Pz electrode and the alpha power
densities on the P3 and O2 electrodes were decreased, and the theta power density on
the Cz electrode was increased after the fatigue-inducing mental task sessions. In
the 0-back test, no electrodes were altered after the fatigue-inducing sessions.
Different types of mental fatigue produced different kinds of alterations of the
spontaneous EEG variables. Our findings provide new perspectives on the neural
mechanisms underlying mental fatigue.
Central nervous system; Electroencephalography; Mental fatigue; N-back Test
Considering the high prevalence of dementia, it would be of great value to develop effective tools to improve cognitive function. We examined the effects of a human-type communication robot on cognitive function in elderly women living alone.
In this study, 34 healthy elderly female volunteers living alone were randomized to living with either a communication robot or a control robot at home for 8 weeks. The shape, voice, and motion features of the communication robot resemble those of a 3-year-old boy, while the control robot was not designed to talk or nod. Before living with the robot and 4 and 8 weeks after living with the robot, experiments were conducted to evaluate a variety of cognitive functions as well as saliva cortisol, sleep, and subjective fatigue, motivation, and healing.
The Mini-Mental State Examination score, judgement, and verbal memory function were improved after living with the communication robot; those functions were not altered with the control robot. In addition, the saliva cortisol level was decreased, nocturnal sleeping hours tended to increase, and difficulty in maintaining sleep tended to decrease with the communication robot, although alterations were not shown with the control. The proportions of the participants in whom effects on attenuation of fatigue, enhancement of motivation, and healing could be recognized were higher in the communication robot group relative to the control group.
This study demonstrates that living with a human-type communication robot may be effective for improving cognitive functions in elderly women living alone.
cognitive function; elderly; women; human-type communication robot; living alone
Fatigue is a common problem in modern society. We attempted to identify moderate- to long-term fatigue-related alterations in the central nervous system using cognitive tasks and electroencephalography (EEG) measures. The study group consisted of 17 healthy male participants. After saliva samples were collected to measure copy number of human herpesvirus (HHV)-6 DNA to assess the level of moderate- to long-term fatigue, subjects were evaluated using EEG, with their eyes open for 2 min, then closed for 1 min sitting quietly. Thereafter, they completed cognitive task trials to evaluate simple selective attention for 3 min (Task 1) and conflict-controlling selective attention for 6 min (Task 2, which included Stroop trials). The percent error of Task 2 for Stroop trials was positively associated with the copy number of saliva HHV-6 DNA, although the simple selective attention measures in Task 1 did not differ significantly. EEG power densities (especially the alpha power density) during the eye-closed condition were negatively associated with the saliva HHV-6 DNA level. Impaired high-level information processing such as that required for conflict-controlling selective attention in the central nervous system may be a characteristic feature of moderate- to long-term fatigue.
Exposure to a warm environment has been reported to be effective for recovery from mental fatigue. However, there have been no reports examining the effects of a pellet stove on recovery from mental fatigue. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a pellet stove on recovery from mental fatigue.
In this placebo-controlled, crossover experiment, 16 healthy volunteers were randomized into the pellet stove and control groups. After a 30-min fatigue-inducing mental task session, participants moved to a recovery room with (pellet stove condition) or without (control condition) a pellet stove to see the image of a pellet stove for 30 min.
After the recovery session, the participants exposed to the pellet stove condition showed lower total error counts of a cognitive test, higher levels of subjective healing, comfort, and warmth, and sympathetic nerve activity and higher parasympathetic nerve activity as compared with the control condition.
These results provide evidence that improved cognitive function, subjective mental states, and balance of the autonomic nervous activities result from using a pellet stove during the recovery session. Hence, the pellet stove was effective for the recovery from mental fatigue.
accelerated plethysmography; advanced trail making test; mental fatigue; pellet stove; recovery; 2-back test
We examined lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) degeneration as an indicator for possible diagnosis of glaucoma in experimental glaucoma monkeys using positron emission tomography (PET). Chronic intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation was induced by laser trabeculoplasty in the left eyes of 5 cynomolgus monkeys. Glial cell activation was detected by PET imaging with [11C]PK11195, a PET ligand for peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor (PBR), before and at 4 weeks after laser treatment (moderate glaucoma stage). At mild, moderate, and advanced experimental glaucoma stages (classified by histological changes based on the extent of axonal loss), brains were stained with cresyl violet, or antibodies against PBR, Iba-1 (a microglial marker), and GFAP (an activated astrocyte marker). In laser-treated eyes, IOP was persistently elevated throughout all observation periods. PET imaging showed increased [11C]PK11195 binding potential in the bilateral LGN at 4 weeks after laser treatment; the increase in the ipsilateral LGN was statistically significant (P<0.05, n = 4). Immunostaining showed bilateral activations of microglia and astrocytes in LGN layers receiving input from the laser-treated eye. PBR-positive cells were observed in LGN layers receiving input from laser-treated eye at all experimental glaucoma stages including the mild glaucoma stage and their localization coincided with Iba-1 positive microglia and GFAP-positive astrocytes. These data suggest that glial activation occurs in the LGN at a mild glaucoma stage, and that the LGN degeneration could be detected by a PET imaging with [11C]PK11195 during the moderate experimental glaucoma stage after unilateral ocular hypertension. Therefore, activated glial markers such as PBR in the LGN may be useful in noninvasive molecular imaging for diagnosis of glaucoma.
We evaluated the utility of L-3,4-dihydroxy-6-[18F]fluoro-phenylalanine ([18F]FDOPA) positron emission tomography (PET) as a method for assessing the severity of dopaminergic dysfunction in unilaterally 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned rats by comparing it with quantitative biochemical, immunohistochemical, and behavioral measurements.
Different doses of 6-OHDA (0, 7, 14, and 28 μg) were unilaterally injected into the right striatum of male Sprague-Dawley rats. Dopaminergic functional activity in the striatum was assessed by [18F]FDOPA-PET, measurement of striatal dopamine (DA) and DA metabolite levels, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunostaining, and methamphetamine-induced rotational testing.
Accumulation of [18F]FDOPA in the bilateral striatum was observed in rats pretreated with both aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors. Unilateral intrastriatal injection of 6-OHDA produced a significant site-specific reduction in [18F]FDOPA accumulation. The topological distribution pattern of [18F]FDOPA accumulation in the ipsilateral striatum agreed well with the pattern in TH-stained corresponding sections. A significant positive relationship was found between Patlak plot Ki values and striatal levels of DA and its metabolites (r = 0.958). A significant negative correlation was found between both Ki values (r = -0.639) and levels of DA and its metabolites (r = -0.719) and the number of methamphetamine-induced rotations.
Ki values determined using [18F]FDOPA-PET correlated significantly with the severity of dopaminergic dysfunction. [18F]FDOPA-PET makes it possible to perform longitudinal evaluation of dopaminergic function in 6-OHDA-lesioned rats, which is useful in the development of new drugs and therapies for Parkinson's disease (PD).
Parkinson's disease; positron emission tomography; [18F]FDOPA; 6-OHDA; dopamine
Fatigue is a common symptom in both sick and healthy people. We examined autonomic nervous alterations associated with fatigue to clarify the mechanisms underlying fatigue.
The study group consisted of 19 healthy participants who performed a 2-back test for 30 min as a fatigue-inducing mental task session. Before and after the session, they completed the advanced trail making test (ATMT) for 30 min for mental fatigue evaluation, subjective scales to measure fatigue sensation, and underwent electrocardiography to allow assessment of autonomic nerve activities.
After the fatigue-inducing task, the total error counts on the ATMT tended to increase (P = 0.076); the ATMT for total trial counts (P = 0.001), the subjective level of fatigue (P < 0.001), and the % low-frequency power (%LF) (P = 0.035) increased significantly; and the % high-frequency power (%HF) decreased compared with before the fatigue-inducing task although this did not reach the statistical significance (P = 0.170). Although LF measured in absolute units did not change significantly before and after the fatigue-inducing task (P = 0.771), and HF measured in absolute units decreased after the task (P = 0.020). The %LF and LF/HF ratio were positively associated with the daily level of fatigue evaluated using Chalder's fatigue scale. In addition, %HF was negatively associated with the fatigue score.
Increased sympathetic activity and decreased parasympathetic activity may be characteristic features of both acute and daily levels of fatigue. Our findings provide new perspectives on the mechanisms underlying fatigue.
Advanced trail making test; 2-back Test; Parasympathetic nerve function; Selective attention; Sympathetic nerve function
Our experience and prejudice concerning food play an important role in modulating gustatory information processing; gustatory memory stored in the central nervous system influences gustatory information arising from the peripheral nervous system. We have elucidated the mechanism of the “top-down” modulation of taste perception in humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and demonstrated that gustatory imagery is mediated by the prefrontal (PFC) and insular cortices (IC). However, the temporal order of activation of these brain regions during gustatory imagery is still an open issue. To explore the source of “top-down” signals during gustatory imagery tasks, we analyzed the temporal activation patterns of activated regions in the cerebral cortex using another non-invasive brain imaging technique, magnetoencephalography (MEG). Gustatory imagery tasks were presented by words (Letter G-V) or pictures (Picture G-V) of foods/beverages, and participants were requested to recall their taste. In the Letter G-V session, 7/9 (77.8%) participants showed activation in the IC with a latency of 401.7±34.7 ms (n = 7) from the onset of word exhibition. In 5/7 (71.4%) participants who exhibited IC activation, the PFC was activated prior to the IC at a latency of 315.2±56.5 ms (n = 5), which was significantly shorter than the latency to the IC activation. In the Picture G-V session, the IC was activated in 6/9 (66.7%) participants, and only 1/9 (11.1%) participants showed activation in the PFC. There was no significant dominance between the right and left IC or PFC during gustatory imagery. These results support those from our previous fMRI study in that the Letter G-V session rather than the Picture G-V session effectively activates the PFC and IC and strengthen the hypothesis that the PFC mediates “top-down” control of retrieving gustatory information from the storage of long-term memories and in turn activates the IC.
Fatigue is a common complaint among elementary and junior high school students, and is known to be associated with reduced academic performance. Recently, we demonstrated that fatigue was correlated with decreased cognitive function in these students. However, no studies have identified cognitive predictors of fatigue. Therefore, we attempted to determine independent cognitive predictors of fatigue in these students.
We performed a prospective cohort study. One hundred and forty-two elementary and junior high school students without fatigue participated. They completed a variety of paper-and-pencil tests, including list learning and list recall tests, kana pick-out test, semantic fluency test, figure copying test, digit span forward test, and symbol digit modalities test. The participants also completed computerized cognitive tests (tasks A to E on the modified advanced trail making test). These cognitive tests were used to evaluate motor- and information-processing speed, immediate and delayed memory function, auditory and visual attention, divided and switching attention, retrieval of learned material, and spatial construction. One year after the tests, a questionnaire about fatigue (Japanese version of the Chalder Fatigue Scale) was administered to all the participants.
After the follow-up period, we confirmed 40 cases of fatigue among 118 students. In multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted for grades and gender, poorer performance on visual information-processing speed and attention tasks was associated with increased risk of fatigue.
Reduced visual information-processing speed and poor attention are independent predictors of fatigue in elementary and junior high school students.
It is known that chronic fatigue is associated with sympathetic hyperactivity. However, the relationship between autonomic function and mental fatigue caused by a prolonged mental load in healthy humans is still unclear. Thus, in order to clarify the mechanisms underlying mental fatigue, we examined the association between mental fatigue and autonomic functions.
The study group comprised 10 healthy participants. To induce mental fatigue, participants performed mental tasks, which consisted of the advanced trail making test, kana pick-out test and mirror drawing test, for 8 hr, corresponding to a normal work day. Autonomic functions were measured by accelerated plethysmography before and after the fatigue-inducing mental tasks. As a control, the same participants completed an 8-hr relaxation session 4 weeks before the fatigue session.
After the 8-hr relaxation session, low-frequency component power (LF), high-frequency component power (HF) and low-frequency component power/high-frequency component power ratio (LF/HF ratio) were not changed from baseline. In contrast, after the fatigue session, the HF and LF/HF ratio were significantly changed from baseline; specifically, the HF was lower and LF/HF ratio was higher as compared to those after the relaxation session.
Sympathetic hyperactivity based on decreased parasympathetic activity is associated with mental fatigue induced by prolonged cognitive load.
Decrease in intrinsic motivation is a common complaint among elementary and junior high school students, and is related to poor academic performance. Since grade-dependent development of cognitive functions also influences academic performance by these students, we examined whether cognitive functions are related to the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation.
The study group consisted of 134 elementary school students from 4th to 6th grades and 133 junior high school students from 7th to 9th grades. Participants completed a questionnaire on intrinsic academic motivation. They also performed paper-and-pencil and computerized cognitive tests to measure abilities in motor processing, spatial construction, semantic fluency, immediate memory, short-term memory, delayed memory, spatial working memory, and selective, alternative, and divided attention.
In multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted for grade and gender, scores of none of the cognitive tests were correlated with the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation in elementary school students. However, low digit span forward test score and score for comprehension of the story in the kana pick-out test were positively correlated with the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation in junior high school students.
The present findings suggest that decrease in capacity for verbal memory is associated with the prevalence of decrease in intrinsic academic motivation among junior high school students.
Despite extensive research, no reliable biological marker for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has yet been identified. However, hyperactivation of melanotrophs in the pituitary gland and increased levels of plasma alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) have recently been detected in an animal model of chronic stress. Because CFS is considered to be caused partly by chronic stress events, increased α-MSH plasma levels may also occur in CFS patients. We therefore examined α-MSH levels in CFS patients.
Fifty-five CFS patients, who were previously diagnosed within 10 years of with the disease, were enrolled in this study. Thirty healthy volunteers were studied as controls. Fasting bloods samples were collected in the morning and evaluated for their plasma levels of α-MSH, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), serum cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S). Mean levels of α-MSH were compared between the CFS and control groups using Welch's t test.
The mean plasma α-MSH concentration in the CFS group (17.9 ± 1.0 pg/mL) was significantly higher than that in healthy controls (14.5 ± 1.0 pg/mL, p = 0.02). However, there was a wide range of values in the CFS group. The factors correlated with the plasma α-MSH values were analyzed using Spearman's rank correlation. A negative correlation was found between the duration of the CFS and the plasma α-MSH values (p = 0.04, rs = -0.28), but no correlations with ACTH, cortisol or DHEA-S levels were identified (p = 0.55, 0.26, 0.33, respectively). The CFS patients were divided into two groups: patients diagnosed for ≤ 5 years' duration, and those diagnosed for 5-10 years' duration. They were compared with the healthy controls using one-way ANOVA and Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison tests. The mean α-MSH concentration in the ≤ 5 years group was 20.8 ± 1.2 pg/mL, which was significantly higher than that in the healthy controls (p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the 5-10 year group (15.6 ± 1.4 pg/mL) and the healthy controls.
CFS patients with a disease duration of ≤ 5 years had significantly higher levels of α-MSH in their peripheral blood. α-MSH could be a potent biological marker for the diagnosis of CFS, at least during the first 5 years after onset of the disease.
Fatigue is an indispensable bioalarm to avoid exhaustive state caused by overwork or stresses. It is necessary to elucidate the neural mechanism of fatigue sensation for managing fatigue properly. We performed H2 15O positron emission tomography scans to indicate neural activations while subjects were performing 35-min fatigue-inducing task trials twice. During the positron emission tomography experiment, subjects performed advanced trail-making tests, touching the target circles in sequence located on the display of a touch-panel screen. In order to identify the brain regions associated with fatigue sensation, correlation analysis was performed using statistical parametric mapping
method. The brain region exhibiting a positive correlation in activity with subjective sensation of fatigue, measured immediately after each positron emission tomography scan, was located in medial orbitofrontal cortex (Brodmann's area 10/11). Hence, the medial orbitofrontal cortex is a brain region associated with mental fatigue sensation. Our findings provide a new perspective on the neural basis of fatigue.