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1.  Iron Deficiency with or without Anemia Impairs Prepulse Inhibition of the Startle Reflex 
Hippocampus  2013;23(10):952-962.
Iron deficiency (ID) during early life causes long-lasting detrimental cognitive sequelae, many of which are linked to alterations in hippocampus function, dopamine synthesis, and the modulation of dopaminergic circuitry by the hippocampus. These same features have been implicated in the origins of schizophrenia, a neuropsychiatric disorder with significant cognitive impairments. Deficits in sensorimotor gating represent a reliable endophenotype of schizophrenia that can be measured by prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle reflex. Using two rodent model systems, we investigated the influence of early-life ID on PPI in adulthood. To isolate the role of hippocampal iron in PPI, our mouse model utilized a timed (embryonic day 18.5), hippocampus-specific knockout of Slc11a2, a gene coding an important regulator of cellular iron uptake, the divalent metal transport type 1 protein (DMT-1). Our second model used a classic rat dietary-based global ID during gestation, a condition that closely mimics human gestational ID anemia (IDA). Both models exhibited impaired PPI in adulthood. Furthermore, our DMT-1 knockout model displayed reduced long-term potentiation (LTP) and elevated paired pulse facilitation (PPF), electrophysiological results consistent with previous findings in the IDA rat model. These results, in combination with previous findings demonstrating impaired hippocampus functioning and altered dopaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission, suggest that iron availability within the hippocampus is critical for the neurodevelopmental processes underlying sensorimotor gating. Ultimately, evidence of reduced PPI in both of our models may offer insights into the roles of fetal ID and the hippocampus in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
doi:10.1002/hipo.22151
PMCID: PMC3888485  PMID: 23733517
Hippocampus; long term potentiation; murine; schizophrenia; dopamine
2.  Continuous Three-Dimensional Control of a Virtual Helicopter Using a Motor Imagery Based Brain-Computer Interface 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26322.
Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) allow a user to interact with a computer system using thought. However, only recently have devices capable of providing sophisticated multi-dimensional control been achieved non-invasively. A major goal for non-invasive BCI systems has been to provide continuous, intuitive, and accurate control, while retaining a high level of user autonomy. By employing electroencephalography (EEG) to record and decode sensorimotor rhythms (SMRs) induced from motor imaginations, a consistent, user-specific control signal may be characterized. Utilizing a novel method of interactive and continuous control, we trained three normal subjects to modulate their SMRs to achieve three-dimensional movement of a virtual helicopter that is fast, accurate, and continuous. In this system, the virtual helicopter's forward-backward translation and elevation controls were actuated through the modulation of sensorimotor rhythms that were converted to forces applied to the virtual helicopter at every simulation time step, and the helicopter's angle of left or right rotation was linearly mapped, with higher resolution, from sensorimotor rhythms associated with other motor imaginations. These different resolutions of control allow for interplay between general intent actuation and fine control as is seen in the gross and fine movements of the arm and hand. Subjects controlled the helicopter with the goal of flying through rings (targets) randomly positioned and oriented in a three-dimensional space. The subjects flew through rings continuously, acquiring as many as 11 consecutive rings within a five-minute period. In total, the study group successfully acquired over 85% of presented targets. These results affirm the effective, three-dimensional control of our motor imagery based BCI system, and suggest its potential applications in biological navigation, neuroprosthetics, and other applications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026322
PMCID: PMC3202533  PMID: 22046274

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