Reduced levels of β-amyloid1-42 (Aβ1-42) and increased levels of tau proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), likely reflecting Aβ deposition in plaques and neuronal and axonal damage. It is not known whether these biomarkers are associated with brain atrophy also in healthy aging. We tested the relationship between CSF levels of Aβ1-42 and tau (total tau and tau phosphorylated at threonine 181) proteins and 1-year brain atrophy in 71 cognitively normal elderly individuals. Results showed that under a certain threshold value, levels of Aβ1-42 correlated highly with 1-year change in a wide range of brain areas. The strongest relationships were not found in the regions most vulnerable early in AD. Above the threshold level, Aβ1-42 was not related to brain changes, but significant volume reductions as well as ventricular expansion were still seen. It is concluded that Aβ1-42 correlates with brain atrophy and ventricular expansion in a subgroup of cognitively normal elderly individuals but that reductions independent of CSF levels of Aβ1-42 is common. Further research and follow-up examinations over several years are needed to test whether degenerative pathology will eventually develop in the group of cognitively normal elderly individuals with low levels of Aβ1-42.
aging; amyloid; cerebral cortex; CSF biomarkers; MRI
Burgmans, van Boxtel, Vuurman, et al. (2009) published an interesting study titled “The Prevalence of Cortical Gray Matter Atrophy May Be Overestimated in the Healthy Aging Brain” on how subclinical cognitive disorders may affect correlations between age and cortical volume. Correlations between cortical gray matter volume and age were found in 30 elderly with cognitive decline after 6 years, but not in 28 elderly without cognitive decline. This study is important, and demonstrates that preclinical cognitive disorders may affect cortical brain volumes before being detectable by neuropsychological tests. However, we are not convinced by the conclusions: “… gray matter atrophy … is to a lesser extent associated with the healthy aging process, but more likely with brain processes underlying significant cognitive decline” (p. 547) and “… cortical gray matter atrophy in the aging brain may be overestimated in a large number of studies on healthy aging” (p. 547). We analyzed the cross-sectional MR data (n = 1,037) as well as longitudinal data from a sample of very well-screened elderly followed by cognitive testing for 2 years. In the cross-sectional data, the correlations between age and brain volumes were generally not much reduced when the upper age limit was lowered. This would not be expected if age-related incipient cognitive disorders caused the correlations given that the incidence of cognitive decline increased with age. Longitudinally, 1-year atrophy was identified in all tested regions. It is likely that cortical brain atrophy is manifested in cognitively normal elderly without subclinical cognitive disorders.
aging; atrophy; cerebral cortex; hippocampus; cognition
MRI-based estimates of cerebral morphometric properties, e.g. cortical thickness, are pivotal to studies of normal and pathological brain changes. These measures are based on automated or manual segmentation procedures, which utilize the tissue contrast between gray and white matter on T1-weighted MR images. Tissue contrast is unlikely to remain a constant property across groups of different age and health. An important question is therefore how the sensitivity of cortical thickness estimates is influenced by variability in WM/GM contrast. The effect of adjusting for variability in WM/GM contrast on age sensitivity of cortical thickness was tested in 1,189 healthy subjects from six different samples, enabling evaluation of consistency of effects within and between sites and scanners. Further, the influence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) diagnosis on cortical thickness with and without correction for contrast was tested in an additional sample of 96 patients. In healthy controls, regional increases in the sensitivity of the cortical thickness measure to age were found after correcting for contrast. Across samples, the strongest effects were observed in frontal, lateral temporal and parietal areas. Controlling for contrast variability also increased the cortical thickness estimates’ sensitivity to AD, thus replicating the finding in an independent clinical sample. The results showed increased sensitivity of cortical estimates to AD in areas earlier reported to be compromised in AD, including medial temporal, inferior and superior parietal regions. In sum, the findings indicate that adjusting for contrast can increase the sensitivity of MR morphometry to variables of interest.
Cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of cortical thickness and volume have shown age effects on large areas, but there are substantial discrepancies across studies regarding the localization and magnitude of effects. These discrepancies hinder understanding of effects of aging on brain morphometry, and limit the potential usefulness of MR in research on healthy and pathological age-related brain changes. The present study was undertaken to overcome this problem by assessing the consistency of age effects on cortical thickness across 6 different samples with a total of 883 participants. A surface-based segmentation procedure (FreeSurfer) was used to calculate cortical thickness continuously across the brain surface. The results showed consistent age effects across samples in the superior, middle, and inferior frontal gyri, superior and middle temporal gyri, precuneus, inferior and superior parietal cortices, fusiform and lingual gyri, and the temporo-parietal junction. The strongest effects were seen in the superior and inferior frontal gyri, as well as superior parts of the temporal lobe. The inferior temporal lobe and anterior cingulate cortices were relatively less affected by age. The results are discussed in relation to leading theories of cognitive aging.
aging; cortex; frontal lobes; morphometry; MRI
Brain atrophy and altered CSF-levels of amyloid beta (Aβ42) and the microtubule-associated protein tau are potent biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) related pathology. However, the relationship between CSF biomarkers and brain morphometry is poorly understood. Thus, we addressed the following questions: (1) Can CSF biomarker levels explain the morphometric differences between normal controls (NC) and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or AD? (2) How are CSF biomarkers related to atrophy across the brain? (3) How closely are CSF biomarkers and morphometry related to clinical change (CDR sum of boxes [CDR-sb])? 370 participants (105 NC/ 175 MCI/ 90 AD) from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative were studied, of whom 309 were followed for one and 176 for two years. Analyses were performed across the entire cortical surface, as well as for 30 cortical and subcortical regions of interest (ROIs). Results showed that CSF biomarker levels could not account for group differences in brain morphometry at baseline but that CSF biomarker levels showed moderate relationships to longitudinal atrophy rates in numerous brain areas, not restricted to medial temporal structures. Baseline morphometry was at least as predictive of atrophy as were CSF biomarkers. Even MCI patients with levels of Aβ42 comparable to controls and of p-tau lower than controls showed more atrophy than the controls. Morphometry predicted change in CDR-sb better than did CSF biomarkers. These results indicate that morphometric changes in MCI and AD are not secondary to CSF biomarker changes, and that the two types of biomarkers yield complementary information.
Alzheimer's disease; Magnetoencephalography; ABeta-peptide; Phosphorylation; Hippocampus; Cerebral cortex; Entorhinal cortex; Parahippocampal cortex
An accurate description of changes in the brain in healthy aging is needed to understand the basis of age-related changes in cognitive function. Cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies suggest thinning of the cerebral cortex, volumetric reductions of most subcortical structures and ventricular expansion. However, there is a paucity of detailed longitudinal studies to support the cross-sectional findings. In the present study, 142 healthy elderly participants (60–91 years) were followed with repeated MRI, and were compared to 122 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD). Volume changes were measured across the entire cortex and in 48 regions of interest (ROIs). Cortical reductions in the healthy elderly were extensive after only one year, especially evident in temporal and prefrontal cortex where annual decline was about 0.5%. All subcortical and ventricular regions except caudate nucleus and the 4th ventricle changed significantly over one year. Some of the atrophy occurred in areas vulnerable to AD, while other changes were observed in areas less characteristic of the disease in early stages. This suggests that the changes are not primarily driven by degenerative processes associated with AD, although it is likely that preclinical changes associated with AD are superposed on changes due to normal aging in some subjects, especially in the temporal lobes. Finally, atrophy was found to accelerate with increasing age, and this was especially prominent in areas vulnerable to AD. Thus, it is possible that the accelerating atrophy with increasing age is due to preclinical AD.
MRI; aging; longitudinal; ADNI; cerebral cortex; hippocampus
Age is associated with substantial macro-structural brain changes. While some recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have reported larger age-effects in men than women, others find no sex differences. As brain morphometry is a potentially important tool in diagnosis and monitoring of age-related neurological diseases, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it is important to know whether sex influences brain aging. We analyzed cross-sectional MR scans from 1143 healthy participants from seven subsamples provided by four independent research groups. In addition, 96 patients with mild AD were included. Estimates of cortical thickness continuously across the brain surface, as well as volume of 17 subcortical structures, were obtained by use of automated segmentation tools (FreeSurfer). In the healthy participants, no differences in aging slopes between women and men were found in any part of the cortex. Pallidum corrected for intracranial volume showed slightly higher age correlations for men. The analyses were repeated in each of the seven sub-samples, and the lack of age × sex interactions was largely replicated. Analyses of the AD sample showed no interactions between sex and age for any brain region. It is concluded that sex has negligible effects on the age-slope of brain volumes both in healthy participants and in AD.
MRI; aging; sex; cerebral cortex; hippocampus; FreeSurfer
An important challenge in the design of diffusion MRI experiments is how to optimize statistical efficiency, i.e., the accuracy with which parameters can be estimated from the diffusion data in a given amount of imaging time. In model-based spherical deconvolution analysis, the quantity of interest is the fiber orientation density (FOD). Here, we demonstrate how the spherical harmonics (SH) can be used to form an explicit analytic expression for the efficiency of the minimum variance (maximally efficient) linear unbiased estimator of the FOD. Using this expression, we calculate optimal b-values for maximum FOD estimation efficiency with SH expansion orders of L = 2, 4, 6, and 8 to be approximately b = 1500, 3000, 4600, and 6200 s/mm2, respectively. However, the arrangement of diffusion directions and scanner-specific hardware limitations also play a role in determining the realizable efficiency of the FOD estimator that can be achieved in practice. We show how some commonly used methods for selecting diffusion directions are sometimes inefficient, and propose a new method for selecting diffusion directions in MRI based on maximizing the statistical efficiency. We further demonstrate how scanner-specific hardware limitations generally lead to optimal b-values that are slightly lower than the ideal b-values. In summary, the analytic expression for the statistical efficiency of the unbiased FOD estimator provides important insight into the fundamental tradeoff between angular resolution, b-value, and FOD estimation accuracy.
HARDI; spherical deconvolution; q-space; Q-ball; crossing fibers; fiber tracks; tracktography; linear model; spherical harmonics
Although reading skill remains relatively stable with advancing age in humans, neurophysiological measures suggest potential reductions in efficiency of lexical information processing. It is unclear whether these age-related changes are secondary to decreases in regional cortical thickness and/or microstructure of fiber tracts essential to language. Magnetoencephalography, volumetric MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging were performed in 10 young (18–33 years) and 10 middle-aged (42–64 years) human individuals to evaluate the spatiotemporal dynamics and structural correlates of age-related changes in lexical-semantic processing. Increasing age was associated with reduced activity in left temporal lobe regions from 250–350ms and in left inferior prefrontal cortex from 350–450ms (i.e., N400). Hierarchical regression indicated that age no longer predicted left inferior prefrontal activity after cortical thickness and fractional anisotropy (FA) of the uncinate fasciculus (UF) were considered. Interestingly, FA of the UF was a stronger predictor of the N400 response than cortical thickness. Age-related reductions in left-lateralization of language responses were observed between 250–350ms, and were associated with left temporal thinning and frontotemporal FA reductions. N400 reductions were not associated with poorer task performance. Rather, increasing age was associated with reduction in the left prefrontal N400, which in turn was also associated with slower response time. These results reveal that changes in the neurophysiology of language occur by middle age and appear to be partially mediated by structural brain loss. These neurophysiological changes may reflect an adaptive process that ensues as communication between left perisylvian regions declines.
N400; magnetoencepholography; language; semantic processing; cortical thickness; diffusion tensor imaging
We investigated the relationship between regional atrophy rates and 2-year cognitive decline in a large cohort of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI; N=103) and healthy controls (N=90). Longitudinal MRIs were analyzed using high-throughput image analysis procedures. Atrophy rates were derived by calculating percent cortical volume loss between baseline and 24-month scans. Step-wise regressions were performed to investigate the contribution of atrophy rates to language, memory, and executive functioning decline, controlling for age, gender, baseline performances, and disease progression. In MCI, left temporal lobe atrophy rates were associated with naming decline, whereas bilateral temporal, left frontal, and left anterior cingulate atrophy rates were associated with semantic fluency decline. Left entorhinal atrophy rate was associated with memory decline and bilateral frontal atrophy rates were associated with executive function decline. These data provide evidence that regional atrophy rates in MCI contribute to domain-specific cognitive decline, which appears to be partially independent of disease progression. MRI measures of regional atrophy can provide valuable information for understanding the neural basis of cognitive impairment in MCI.
cortical thinning; cognitive deficits; naming; semantic fluency; verbal memory; executive dysfunction
The hippocampus expresses a large number of androgen receptors; therefore, in men it is potentially vulnerable to the gradual age-related decline of testosterone levels. In the present study we sought to elucidate the nature of the relationship between testosterone and hippocampal volume in a sample of middle-aged male twins (average age 55.8 years). We found no evidence for a correlation between testosterone level and hippocampal volume, as well as no indication of shared genetic influences. However, a significant moderating effect of testosterone on the genetic and environmental determinants of hippocampal volume was observed. Genetic influences on hippocampal volume increased substantially as a function of increasing testosterone level, while environmental influences either decreased or remained stable. These findings provide evidence for an apparent gene-by-hormone interaction on hippocampal volume. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the heritability of a brain structure in adults may be modified by an endogenous biological factor.
Heritability; Hippocampal Volume; Testosterone; Twin Study; Aging
Twin studies generally show great consistency for the heritability of brain structures. Ironically, the lateral ventricles—perhaps the most reliably measured brain regions of interest—are the most inconsistent when it comes to estimating genetic influences on their volume. Heritability estimates in twin studies have ranged from zero to almost 0.80. Here we aggregate heritability estimates from extant twin studies, and we review and re-interpret some of the findings. Based on our revised estimates, we conclude that lateral ventricular volume is indeed heritable. The weighted average heritability of the revised estimates was 0.54. Although accumulated environmental insults might seem most logical as the predominant cause of age-related ventricular expansion, the data strongly suggest that genetic influences on lateral ventricular volume are increasing with age. Genetic influences accounted for 32-35% of the variance in lateral ventricular volume in childhood, but about 75% of the variance in late middle and older age. These conclusions have implications for the basic understanding of the genetic and environmental underpinnings of normative and pathological brain aging.
lateral ventricles; genetics; aging; structural MRI; twins; endophenotype; mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer’s disease
Animal data demonstrate that the development of distinct cortical areas is influenced by genes that exhibit highly regionalized expression patterns. In this paper, we show genetic patterning of cortical surface area derived from MRI data from 406 adult human twins. We mapped genetic correlations of areal expansion between selected seed regions and all other cortical locations, with the selection of seed points based on results from animal studies. “Marching seeds” and a data-driven, hypothesis-free, fuzzy clustering approach provided convergent validation. The results reveal strong anterior-to-posterior graded, bilaterally symmetric patterns of regionalization, largely consistent with patterns previously reported in non-human mammalian models. Broad similarities in genetic patterning between rodents and humans may suggest a conservation of cortical patterning mechanisms while dissimilarities might reflect the functionalities most essential to each species.
Abnormal accumulation of α-synuclein is centrally involved in the pathogenesis of many disorders with Parkinsonism and dementia. Previous in vitro studies suggest that α-synuclein dysregulates intracellular calcium. However, it is unclear whether these alterations occur in vivo. For this reason, we investigated calcium dynamics in transgenic mice expressing human WT α-synuclein using two-photon microscopy. We imaged spontaneous and stimulus-induced neuronal activity in the barrel cortex. Transgenic mice exhibited augmented, long-lasting calcium transients characterized by considerable deviation from the exponential decay. The most evident pathology was observed in response to a repetitive stimulation in which subsequent stimuli were presented before relaxation of calcium signal to the baseline. These alterations were detected in the absence of significant increase in neuronal spiking response compared with age-matched controls, supporting the possibility that α-synuclein promoted alterations in calcium dynamics via interference with intracellular buffering mechanisms. The characteristic shape of calcium decay and augmented response during repetitive stimulation can serve as in vivo imaging biomarkers in this model of neurodegeneration, to monitor progression of the disease and screen candidate treatment strategies.
The relationship between neurodegeneration and the two hallmark proteins of Alzheimer's disease, amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau, is still unclear. Here, we examined 286 non-demented participants (107 cognitively normal older adults and 179 memory impaired individuals) who underwent longitudinal MR imaging and lumbar puncture. Using mixed effects models, we investigated the relationship between longitudinal entorhinal cortex atrophy, CSF p-tau181p and CSF Aβ1-42. We found a significant relationship between elevated entorhinal cortex atrophy and decreased CSF Aβ1-42 only with elevated CSF p-tau181p. Our findings indicate that Aβ-associated volume loss occurs only in the presence of phospho-tauin humans at risk for dementia.
To compare three methods of localizing the source of epileptiform activity recorded with magnetoencephalography (MEG): equivalent current dipole (ECD), minimum current estimate (MCE), and dynamic statistical parametric mapping (dSPM), and to evaluate the solutions by comparison with clinical symptoms and other electrophysiological and neuroradiological findings.
Fourteen children of 3 to 15 years old were studied. MEG was collected with a whole-head 204-channel helmet-shaped sensor array. We calculated ECDs and made MCE and dSPM movies to estimate the cortical distribution of interictal epileptic discharges (IED) in these patients.
The results for 4 patients with localization related epilepsy (LRE) and 1 patient with Landau-Kleffner Syndrome were consistent among all 3 analysis methods. In the rest of the patients MCE and dSPM suggested multifocal or widespread activity; in these patients the ECD results were so scattered that interpretation of the results was not possible. For 9 patients with LRE and generalized epilepsy, the epileptiform discharges were wide-spread or only slow waves, but dSPM suggested a possible propagation path of the IED.
MCE and dSPM could identify the propagation of epileptiform activity with high temporal resolution. The results of dSPM were more stable because the solutions were less sensitive to background brain activity.
MEG; epilepsy; dynamic statistical parametric mapping; minimum current estimate; minimum norm estimate; equivalent current dipole
Human skull and brain morphology are strongly influenced by genetic factors, and skull size and shape vary worldwide. However, the relationship between specific brain morphology and genetically-determined ancestry is largely unknown.
We used two independent data sets to characterize variation in skull and brain morphology among individuals of European ancestry. The first data set is a historical sample of 1,170 male skulls with 37 shape measurements drawn from 27 European populations. The second data set includes 626 North American individuals of European ancestry participating in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) with magnetic resonance imaging, height and weight, neurological diagnosis, and genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data.
We found that both skull and brain morphological variation exhibit a population-genetic fingerprint among individuals of European ancestry. This fingerprint shows a Northwest to Southeast gradient, is independent of body size, and involves frontotemporal cortical regions.
Our findings are consistent with prior evidence for gene flow in Europe due to historical population movements and indicate that genetic background should be considered in studies seeking to identify genes involved in human cortical development and neuropsychiatric disease.
Biological anthropology; Cortex; Craniometry; Genetic drift; Imaging genomics; Neuroimaging; Population genetics
To elucidate the relationship between the two hallmark proteins of Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau, and clinical decline over time among cognitively normal older individuals.
A longitudinal cohort of clinically and cognitively normal older individuals assessed with baseline lumbar puncture and longitudinal clinical assessments.
Research centers across the United States and Canada.
We examined one hundred seven participants with a Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) of 0 at baseline examination.
Main Outcome Measures
Using linear mixed effects models, we investigated the relationship between CSF p-tau181p, CSF Aβ1-42 and clinical decline as assessed using longitudinal change in global CDR, CDR-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), and the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog).
We found a significant relationship between decreased CSF Aβ1-42 and longitudinal change in global CDR, CDR-SB, and ADAS-cog in individuals with elevated CSF p-tau181p. In the absence of CSF p-tau181p, the effect of CSF Aβ1-42 on longitudinal clinical decline was not significantly different from zero.
In cognitively normal older individuals, Aβ-associated clinical decline over a mean of three years may occur only in the presence of ongoing, “downstream” neurodegeneration.
Age is the strongest risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer disease (AD), yet the effects of age on rates of clinical decline and brain atrophy in AD have been largely unexplored. Here, we examined longitudinal rates of change as a function of baseline age for measures of clinical decline and structural MRI-based regional brain atrophy, in cohorts of AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and cognitively healthy (HC) individuals aged 65 to 90 years (total n = 723). The effect of age was modeled using mixed effects linear regression. There was pronounced reduction in rates of clinical decline and atrophy with age for AD and MCI individuals, whereas HCs showed increased rates of clinical decline and atrophy with age. This resulted in convergence in rates of change for HCs and patients with advancing age for several measures. Baseline cerebrospinal fluid densities of AD-relevant proteins, Aβ1–42, tau, and phospho-tau181p (ptau), showed a similar pattern of convergence with advanced age across cohorts, particularly for ptau. In contrast, baseline clinical measures did not differ by age, indicating uniformity of clinical severity at baseline. These results imply that the phenotypic expression of AD is relatively mild in individuals older than approximately 85 years, and this may affect the ability to distinguish AD from normal aging in the very old. Our findings show that inclusion of older individuals in clinical trials will substantially reduce the power to detect disease-modifying therapeutic effects, leading to dramatic increases in required clinical trial sample sizes with age of study sample.
Subjects detected rarely-occurring shifts between two simple tone-patterns, in a paradigm that dissociated the effects of rarity from those of pitch, habituation, and attention. Whole-head magnetoencephalography suggested that rare attended pattern-shifts evoked activity first in the superior temporal plane (STP, peak ~100 ms), then superior temporal sulcus (STS, peak ~130 ms), then posteroventral prefrontal (pvpF, peak ~230 ms), and anterior temporal cortices (aT, peak ~370 ms). Activity was more prominent in the right hemisphere. After subtracting the effects of non-shift tones (balanced for pitch and habituation status), weak but consistent differential effects of pattern-shifts began in aT at 90–130 ms, spread to STS and STP at ~130 ms, then pvpF, and finally returned to aT. Cingulate activity resembled prefrontal. Responses to pattern shifts were greatly attenuated when the same stimuli were ignored, suggesting that the initial superior temporal activity reflected an attention-related Mismatch Negativity. The prefrontal activity at ~230 ms corresponded in latency and task correlates with simultaneously recorded event-related potential components N2b and P3a; the subsequent temporal activity corresponded to the P3b. These results were confirmed in sensors specific for frontal or temporal cortex, and thus are independent of the inverse method used. Overall, these results suggest that auditory working memory for temporal patterns begins with detection of the pattern change by an interaction of anterior and superior temporal structures, followed by identification of the event and its consequences led by posteroventral prefrontal and cingulate cortices, and finally, definitive encoding of the event in anterior temporal areas.
music; hippocampal formation; parahippocampal gyrus; auditory cortex; attention; Heschl's gyrus; magnetoencephalography; temporal lobe; prefrontal cortex; cingulate gyrus; insula; operculum; MEG; mismatch negativity; MMN; N2; N200; P300; P3; P3a; human; habituation
We describe here a method, Quarc, for accurately quantifying structural changes in organs, based on serial MRI scans. The procedure can be used to measure deformations globally or in regions of interest (ROIs), including large-scale changes in the whole organ, and subtle changes in small-scale structures. We validate the method with model studies, and provide an illustrative analysis using the brain. We apply the method to the large, publicly available ADNI database of serial brain scans, and calculate Cohen’s d effect sizes for several ROIs. Using publicly available derived-data, we directly compare effect sizes from Quarc with those from four existing methods that quantify cerebral structural change. Quarc produced a slightly improved, though not significantly different, whole brain effect size compared with the standard KN-BSI method, but in all other cases it produced significantly larger effect sizes.
Nonlinear image registration; Regional change quantification; MRI biomarkers
Learning words is central in human development. However, lacking clear evidence for how or where language is processed in the developing brain, it is unknown whether these processes are similar in infants and adults. Here, we use magnetoencephalography in combination with high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging to noninvasively estimate the spatiotemporal distribution of word-selective brain activity in 12- to 18-month-old infants. Infants watched pictures of common objects and listened to words that they understood. A subset of these infants also listened to familiar words compared with sensory control sounds. In both experiments, words evoked a characteristic event-related brain response peaking ∼400 ms after word onset, which localized to left frontotemporal cortices. In adults, this activity, termed the N400m, is associated with lexico-semantic encoding. Like adults, we find that the amplitude of the infant N400m is also modulated by semantic priming, being reduced to words preceded by a semantically related picture. These findings suggest that similar left frontotemporal areas are used for encoding lexico-semantic information throughout the life span, from the earliest stages of word learning. Furthermore, this ontogenetic consistency implies that the neurophysiological processes underlying the N400m may be important both for understanding already known words and for learning new words.
language development; magnetoencephalography; MRI; N400m
In vivo imaging of cerebral tissue oxygenation is of key importance in defining healthy physiology and pathological departures associated with cerebral disease. We used a recently developed two-photon microscopy method, based on a novel phosphorescent nanoprobe, to image tissue oxygenation in the rat primary sensory cortex (SI) in response to sensory stimulation. Our measurements showed that a stimulus-evoked increase in tissue pO2 depended on the baseline pO2 level. In particular, during sustained stimulation, the steady-state pO2 at low-baseline locations remained at the baseline, despite large pO2 increases elsewhere. In contrast to the steady state, where pO2 never decreased below the baseline, transient decreases occurred during the “initial dip” and “post-stimulus undershoot.” These results suggest that the increase in blood oxygenation during the hemodynamic response, which has been perceived as a paradox, may serve to prevent a sustained oxygenation drop at tissue locations remote from the vascular feeding sources.
Repetition priming is a core feature of memory processing whose anatomical correlates remain poorly understood. In this study, we use advanced multimodal imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography; MEG) to investigate the spatiotemporal profile of repetition priming. We use intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) to validate our fMRI/MEG measurements. Twelve controls completed a semantic judgment task with fMRI and MEG that included words presented once (new, ‘N’) and words that repeated (old, ‘O’). Six patients with epilepsy completed the same task during iEEG recordings. Blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) responses for N vs O words were examined across the cortical surface and within regions of interest. MEG waveforms for N vs O words were estimated using a noise-normalized minimum norm solution, and used to interpret the timecourse of fMRI. Spatial concordance was observed between fMRI and MEG repetition effects from 350–450ms within bilateral occipitotemporal and medial temporal, left prefrontal, and left posterior temporal cortex. Additionally, MEG revealed widespread sources within left temporoparietal regions, whereas fMRI revealed bilateral reductions in occipitotemporal and left superior frontal, and increases in inferior parietal, precuneus, and dorsolateral prefrontal activity. BOLD suppression in left posterior temporal, left inferior prefrontal, and right occipitotemporal cortex correlated with MEG repetition-related reductions. IEEG responses from all three regions supported the timecourse of MEG and localization of fMRI. Furthermore, iEEG decreases to repeated words were associated with decreased gamma power in several regions, providing evidence that gamma oscillations are tightly coupled to cognitive phenomena and reflect regional activations seen in the BOLD signal.
fMRI; magnetoencepholography; intracranial EEG; memory; language; gamma
Motion artifacts pose significant problems for the acquisition and analysis of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging data. These artifacts can be particularly severe when studying pediatric populations, where greater patient movement reduces the ability to clearly view and reliably measure anatomy. In this study, we tested the effectiveness of a new prospective motion correction technique, called PROMO, as applied to making neuroanatomical measures in typically developing school-age children. This method attempts to address the problem of motion at its source by keeping the measurement coordinate system fixed with respect to the subject throughout image acquisition. The technique also performs automatic rescanning of images that were acquired during intervals of particularly severe motion. Unlike many previous techniques, this approach adjusts for both in-plane and through-plane movement, greatly reducing image artifacts without the need for additional equipment. Results show that the use of PROMO notably enhances subjective image quality, reduces errors in Freesurfer cortical surface reconstructions, and significantly improves the subcortical volumetric segmentation of brain structures. Further applications of PROMO for clinical and cognitive neuroscience are discussed.