Episodic memory refers to the recollection of personal experiences that contain information on what has happened and also where and when these events took place. Episodic memory function is extremely sensitive to cerebral aging and neurodegerative diseases. We examined episodic memory performance with a novel test in young (N = 17, age: 21–45), middle-aged (N = 16, age: 48–62) and aged but otherwise healthy participants (N = 8, age: 71–83) along with measurements of trait and state anxiety. As expected we found significantly impaired episodic memory performance in the aged group as compared to the young group. The aged group also showed impaired working memory performance as well as significantly decreased levels of trait anxiety. No significant correlation between the total episodic memory and trait or state anxiety scores was found. The present results show an age-dependent episodic memory decline along with lower trait anxiety in the aged group. Yet, it still remains to be determined whether this difference in anxiety is related to the impaired episodic memory performance in the aged group.
aging; anxiety; episodic memory; depression; working memory
Episodic memory often is conceptualized as a uniquely human system of long-term memory that makes available knowledge accompanied by the temporal and spatial context in which that knowledge was acquired. Retrieval from episodic memory entails a form of first–person subjectivity called autonoetic consciousness that provides a sense that a recollection was something that took place in the experiencer's personal past. In this paper I expand on this definition of episodic memory. Specifically, I suggest that (1) the core features assumed unique to episodic memory are shared by semantic memory, (2) episodic memory cannot be fully understood unless one appreciates that episodic recollection requires the coordinated function of a number of distinct, yet interacting, “enabling” systems. Although these systems—ownership, self, subjective temporality, and agency—are not traditionally viewed as memorial in nature, each is necessary for episodic recollection and jointly they may be sufficient, and (3) the type of subjective awareness provided by episodic recollection (autonoetic) is relational rather than intrinsic—i.e., it can be lost in certain patient populations, thus rendering episodic memory content indistinguishable from the content of semantic long-term memory.
episodic memory; semantic memory; autonoetic awarness; amnesia; self; consciousness
In this paper I describe the key features of optic flow processing in pigeons. Optic flow is the visual motion that occurs across the entire retina as a result of self-motion and is processed by subcortical visual pathways that project to the cerebellum. These pathways originate in two retinal-recipient nuclei, the nucleus of the basal optic root (nBOR) and the nucleus lentiformis mesencephali, which project to the vestibulocerebellum (VbC) (folia IXcd and X), directly as mossy fibers, and indirectly as climbing fibers from the inferior olive. Optic flow information is integrated with vestibular input in the VbC. There is a clear separation of function in the VbC: Purkinje cells in the flocculus process optic flow resulting from self-rotation, whereas Purkinje cells in the uvula/nodulus process optic flow resulting from self-translation. Furthermore, Purkinje cells with particular optic flow preferences are organized topographically into parasagittal “zones.” These zones are correlated with expression of the isoenzyme aldolase C, also known as zebrin II (ZII). ZII expression is heterogeneous such that there are parasagittal stripes of Purkinje cells that have high expression (ZII+) alternating with stripes of Purkinje cells with low expression (ZII−). A functional zone spans a ZII± stripe pair. That is, each zone that contains Purkinje cells responsive to a particular pattern of optic flow is subdivided into a strip containing ZII+ Purkinje cells and a strip containing ZII− Purkinje cells. Additionally, there is optic flow input to folia VI–VIII of the cerebellum from lentiformis mesencephali. These folia also receive visual input from the tectofugal system via pontine nuclei. As the tectofugal system is involved in the analysis of local motion, there is integration of optic flow and local motion information in VI–VIII. This part of the cerebellum may be important for moving through a cluttered environment.
optic flow; cerebellum; vestibulocerebellum; zebrin; accessory optic system; pretectum; oculomotor cerebellum
Many neurons in the macaque ventral intraparietal area (VIP) are multimodal, i.e., they respond not only to visual but also to tactile, auditory and vestibular stimulation. Anatomical studies have shown distinct projections between area VIP and a region of premotor cortex controlling head movements. A specific function of area VIP could be to guide movements in order to head for and/or to avoid objects in near extrapersonal space. This behavioral role would require a consistent representation of visual motion within 3-D space and enhanced activity for nearby motion signals. Accordingly, in our present study we investigated whether neurons in area VIP are sensitive to moving visual stimuli containing depth signals from horizontal disparity. We recorded single unit activity from area VIP of two awake behaving monkeys (Macaca mulatta) fixating a central target on a projection screen. Sensitivity of neurons to horizontal disparity was assessed by presenting large field moving images (random dot fields) stereoscopically to the two eyes by means of LCD shutter goggles synchronized with the stimulus computer. During an individual trial, stimuli had one of seven different disparity values ranging from 3° uncrossed- (far) to 3° crossed- (near) disparity in 1° steps. Stimuli moved at constant speed in all simulated depth planes. Different disparity values were presented across trials in pseudo-randomized order. Sixty-one percent of the motion sensitive cells had a statistically significant selectivity for the horizontal disparity of the stimulus (p < 0.05, distribution free ANOVA). Seventy-five percent of them preferred crossed-disparity values, i.e., moving stimuli in near space, with the highest mean activity for the nearest stimulus. At the population level, preferred direction of visual stimulus motion was not affected by horizontal disparity. Thus, our findings are in agreement with the behavioral role of area VIP in the representation of movement in near extrapersonal space.
parietal cortex; macaque monkey; VIP; self-motion; disparity; multisensory
Research in spatial navigation revealed the existence of discrete strategies defined by the use of distinct reference frames during virtual path integration. The present study investigated the distribution of these navigation strategies as a function of gender, video gaming experience, and self-estimates of spatial navigation abilities in a population of 300 subjects. Participants watched videos of virtual passages through a star-field with one turn in either the horizontal (yaw) or the vertical (pitch) axis. At the end of a passage they selected one out of four homing arrows to indicate the initial starting location. To solve the task, participants could employ two discrete strategies, navigating within either an egocentric or an allocentric reference frame. The majority of valid subjects (232/260) consistently used the same strategy in more than 75% of all trials. With that approach 33.1% of all participants were classified as Turners (using an egocentric reference frame on both axes) and 46.5% as Non-turners (using an allocentric reference frame on both axes). 9.2% of all participants consistently used an egocentric reference frame in the yaw plane but an allocentric reference frame in the pitch plane (Switcher). Investigating the influence of gender on navigation strategies revealed that females predominantly used the Non-turner strategy while males used both the Turner and the Non-turner strategy with comparable probabilities. Other than expected, video gaming experience did not influence strategy use. Based on a strong quantitative basis with the sample size about an order of magnitude larger than in typical psychophysical studies these results demonstrate that most people reliably use one out of three possible navigation strategies (Turners, Non-turners, Switchers) for spatial updating and provides a sound estimate of how those strategies are distributed within the general population.
spatial navigation; reference frames; path integration; gender differences; navigational strategies
The auditory mismatch responses are elicited in absence of directed attention but are thought to reflect attention modulating effects. Little is known however, if the deviants in a stream of standards are specifically directing attention across modalities and how they interact with other attention directing signals such as emotions. We applied the well-established paradigm of left- or right-lateralized deviant syllables within a dichotic listening design. In a simple target detection paradigm with lateralized visual stimuli, we hypothesized that responses to visual stimuli would be speeded after ignored auditory deviants on the same side. Moreover, stimuli with negative valence in the visual domain could be expected to reduce this effect due to attention capture for this emotion, resulting in speeded responses to visual stimuli even when attention was directed to the opposite side by the auditory deviant beforehand. Reaction times of 17 subjects confirmed the speeding of responses after deviant events. However, reduced facilitation was observed for positive targets at the left after incongruent deviants, i.e., at the right ear. In particular, significant interactions of valence and visual field and of valence and spatial congruency emerged. Pre-attentive auditory processing may modulate attention in a spatially selective way. However, negative valence processing in the right hemisphere may override this effect. Resource allocation such as spatial attention is regulated dynamically by multimodal and emotion information processing.
auditory deviants; dichotic listening; spatial attention; valence; multisensory perception
Resilience is the ability to adapt successfully in the face of stress and adversity. Stressful life events, trauma, and chronic adversity can have a substantial impact on brain function and structure, and can result in the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and other psychiatric disorders. However, most individuals do not develop such illnesses after experiencing stressful life events, and are thus thought to be resilient. Resilience as successful adaptation relies on effective responses to environmental challenges and ultimate resistance to the deleterious effects of stress, therefore a greater understanding of the factors that promote such effects is of great relevance. This review focuses on recent findings regarding genetic, epigenetic, developmental, psychosocial, and neurochemical factors that are considered essential contributors to the development of resilience. Neural circuits and pathways involved in mediating resilience are also discussed. The growing understanding of resilience factors will hopefully lead to the development of new pharmacological and psychological interventions for enhancing resilience and mitigating the untoward consequences.
resilience; stress; neurobiology; depression; PTSD
Aging is associated with deterioration of skilled manual movement. Specifically, aging corresponds with increased reaction time, greater movement duration, segmentation of movement, increased movement variability, and reduced ability to adapt to external forces and inhibit previously learned sequences. Moreover, it is thought that decreased lateralization of neural function in older adults may point to increased neural recruitment as a compensatory response to deterioration of key frontal and intra-hemispheric networks, particularly of callosal structures. However, factors that mediate age-related motor decline are not well understood. Here we show that music training in childhood is associated with reduced age-related decline of bimanual and unimanual motor skills in a MIDI keyboard motor learning task. Compared to older adults without music training, older adults with more than a year of music training demonstrated proficient bimanual and unimanual movement, evidenced by enhanced speed and decreased movement errors. Further, this group demonstrated significantly better implicit learning in the weather prediction task, a non-motor task. The performance of older adults with music training in those tasks was comparable to young adults. Older adults, however, displayed greater verbal ability compared to young adults irrespective of a past history of music training. Our results indicate that music training early in life may reduce age-associated decline of neural motor and cognitive networks.
bimanual motor skill; motor coordination; weather prediction task; keyboard; piano; music training; implicit learning; verbal ability
Visual control of locomotion typically involves both detection of current egomotion as well as anticipation of impending changes in trajectory. To determine if there are distinct neural systems involved in these aspects of steering control we used a slalom paradigm, which required participants to steer around objects in a computer simulated environment using a joystick. In some trials the whole slalom layout was visible (steering “preview” trials) so planning of the trajectory around future waypoints was possible, whereas in other trials the slalom course was only revealed one object at a time (steering “near” trials) so that future planning was restricted. In order to control for any differences in the motor requirements and visual properties between “preview” and “near” trials, we also interleaved control trials which replayed a participants' previous steering trials, with the task being to mimic the observed steering. Behavioral and fMRI results confirmed previous findings of superior parietal lobe (SPL) recruitment during steering trials, with a more extensive parietal and sensorimotor network during steering “preview” compared to steering “near” trials. Correlational analysis of fMRI data with respect to individual behavioral performance revealed that there was increased activation in the SPL in participants who exhibited smoother steering performance. These findings indicate that there is a role for the SPL in encoding path defining targets or obstacles during forward locomotion, which also provides a potential neural underpinning to explain improved steering performance on an individual basis.
steering; locomotion; fMRI; performance
We examined the ability of observers to detect the 3D curvature of motion paths when binocular disparity and motion information were present. On each trial, two displays were observed through shutter-glasses. In one display, a sphere moved along a linear path in the horizontal and depth dimensions. In the other display, the sphere moved from the same starting position to the same ending position as in the linear path, but moved along an arc in depth. Observers were asked to indicate whether the first or second display simulated a curved trajectory. Adaptive staircases were used to derive the observers' thresholds of curvature detection. In the first experiment, two independent variables were manipulated: viewing condition (binocular vs. monocular) and type of curvature (concave vs. convex). In the second experiment, three independent variables were manipulated: viewing condition, type of curvature, and whether the motion direction was approaching or receding. In both experiments, detection thresholds were lower for binocular viewing conditions as compared to monocular viewing conditions. In addition, concave trajectories were easier to detect than convex trajectories. In the second experiment, the direction of motion did not significantly affect curvature detection. These results indicate the detection of curved motion paths from monocular information was improved when binocular information was present. The results also indicate the importance of the type of curvature, suggesting that the rate of change of disparity may be important in detecting curved trajectories.
3D motion perception; binocular disparity; trajectory; curved trajectory; 3D perception; motion in depth
One of the earliest and most consistent findings in behavioral neuroscience research is that learning changes the brain. Here we consider how learning as an aspect of coping in the context of stress exposure induces neuroadaptations that enhance emotion regulation and resilience. A systematic review of the literature identified 15 brain imaging studies in which humans with specific phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were randomized to stress exposure therapies that diminished subsequent indications of anxiety. Most of these studies focused on functional changes in the amygdala and anterior corticolimbic brain circuits that control cognitive, motivational, and emotional aspects of physiology and behavior. Corresponding structural brain changes and the timing, frequency, and duration of stress exposure required to modify brain functions remain to be elucidated in future research. These studies will advance our understanding of coping as a learning process and provide mechanistic insights for the development of new interventions that promote stress coping skills.
stress; coping; exposure therapy; neuroplasticity; neuroimaging; learning; emotion regulation
In behavioral neuroscience, many experiments are developed in 1 or 2 spatial dimensions, but when scientists tackle problems in 3-dimensions (3D), they often face problems or new challenges. Results obtained for lower dimensions are not always extendable in 3D. In motor planning of eye, gaze or arm movements, or sensorimotor transformation problems, the 3D kinematics of external (stimuli) or internal (body parts) must often be considered: how to describe the 3D position and orientation of these objects and link them together? We describe how dual quaternions provide a convenient way to describe the 3D kinematics for position only (point transformation) or for combined position and orientation (through line transformation), easily modeling rotations, translations or screw motions or combinations of these. We also derive expressions for the velocities of points and lines as well as the transformation velocities. Then, we apply these tools to a motor planning task for manual tracking and to the modeling of forward and inverse kinematics of a seven-dof three-link arm to show the interest of dual quaternions as a tool to build models for these kinds of applications.
geometric algebra; forward kinematics; inverse kinematics; reference frame transformation
Experimental models of depression often entail exposing a rodent to a stressor and subsequently characterizing changes in learning and anhedonia, which may reflect symptoms of human depression. Importantly, not all people, and not all laboratory rats, exposed to stressors develop depressed behavior; these “resilient” individuals are the focus of our review. Herein we describe research from the “learned helplessness” and “intermittent swim stress” (ISS) models of depression in which rats that were allowed to control the offset of the aversive stimulus with a behavioral response, and in a subset of rats that were not allowed to control the stressor that appeared to be behaviorally and neurochemically similar to rats that were either naive to stress or had controllability over the stressor. For example, rats exposed to inescapable tailshock, but do not develop learned helplessness, exhibit altered sensitivity to the behavioral effects of GABAA receptor antagonists and reduced in vitro benzodiazepine receptor ligand binding. This pattern suggested that resilience might involve activation of an endogenous benzodiazepine-like compound, possibly an allostatic modulator of the GABAA receptor like allopregnanolone. From the ISS model, we have observed in resilient rats protection from stressor-induced glucocorticoid increases and immune activation. In order to identify the neural mediators of these correlates of resilience, non-invasive measures are needed to predict the resilient or vulnerable phenotype prior to analysis of neural endpoints. To this end, we found that ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) appear to predict the resilient phenotype in the ISS paradigm. We propose that combining non-invasive predictive measures, such as USVs with biological endpoint measures, will facilitate future research into the neural correlates of resilience.
shock and swim stress; GABAA receptor; neurosteroids; resilience; ultrasonic vocalizations
Manual interception, such as catching or hitting an approaching ball, requires the hand to contact a moving object at the right location and at the right time. Many studies have examined the neural mechanisms underlying the spatial aspects of goal-directed reaching, but the neural basis of the spatial and temporal aspects of manual interception are largely unknown. Here, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to investigate the role of the human middle temporal visual motion area (MT+/V5) and superior parieto-occipital cortex (SPOC) in the spatial and temporal control of manual interception. Participants were required to reach-to-intercept a downward moving visual target that followed an unpredictably curved trajectory, presented on a screen in the vertical plane. We found that rTMS to MT+/V5 influenced interceptive timing and positioning, whereas rTMS to SPOC only tended to increase the spatial variance in reach end points for selected target trajectories. These findings are consistent with theories arguing that distinct neural mechanisms contribute to spatial, temporal, and spatiotemporal control of manual interception.
interception; rTMS; SPOC; MT+; spatial behavior; timing of action
The habenular complex linking forebrain and midbrain structures is subdivided into the medial (mHb) and the lateral nuclei (lHb). The mHb is characterized by the expression of specific nicotinic acetylcholine receptor isoforms and the release of acetylcholine to the interpeduncular nucleus (IPN), the sole output region of the mHb. The specific function of this circuit, however, is poorly understood. Here we generated transgenic mice in which mHb cells were selectively ablated postnatally. These lesions led to large reductions in acetylcholine levels within the IPN. The mutant mice exhibited abnormalities in a wide range of behavioral domains. They tended to be hyperactive during the early night period and were maladapted when repeatedly exposed to new environments. Mutant mice also showed a high rate of premature responses in the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT), indicating impulsive and compulsive behavior. Additionally, mice also exhibited delay and effort aversion in a decision-making test, deficits in spatial memory, a subtle increase in anxiety levels, and attenuated sensorimotor gating. IntelliCage studies under social housing conditions confirmed hyperactivity, environmental maladaptation, and impulsive/compulsive behavior, delay discounting, deficits in long-term spatial memory, and reduced flexibility in complex learning paradigms. In 5-CSRTT and adaptation tasks, systemic administration of nicotine slowed down nose-poke reaction and enhanced adaptation in control but not mutant mice. These findings demonstrate that the mHb–IPN pathway plays a crucial role in inhibitory control and cognition-dependent executive functions.
colinergic circuit; diphthelia toxin; genetic cell abration; decision making; maladaptation; impulsivity and self-control; schizhophrenia; ADHD
Although stress is implicated in the pathophysiology of mood and anxiety disorders, not all individuals who suffer stressful life events develop psychopathology. Differential susceptibility to stress may be influenced by genetically mediated differences in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity and moderation of the stress response by the opioid peptide β-endorphin (β-E). The present study investigated genetic contributions to coping behavior by examining anxious behavior of transgenic mice with varying capacities to synthesize β-E [B6.129S2-Pomctm1Low/J; regulated by insertion of a premature stop codon into one or both copies of the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene], both under normal conditions and following 3 min of forced swim (FS). Ten minutes after this stress exposure or a control manipulation, acutely food-deprived female and male transgenic mice were subjected to a novelty-suppressed feeding (NSF) test, during which their interaction with an almond slice located in the center of an open field box was measured. There was an interaction between genotype and stress for latency to approach the almond and whether or not the almond was approached, such that mice with low or absent β-E displayed a stronger aversion to novelty-feeding after stress exposure than did mice with normal levels. These data provide evidence for a moderating effect of β-E on the behavioral response to stress. Genotypic differences in anxious behavior emerged when mice were stressed prior to behavioral assessment, suggesting that β-E plays a role in coping behavior. These findings indicate that genetic variability in sensitivity of the β-E system to stress may contribute, at least in part, to heritable differences in stress reactivity as well as vulnerability to stress-related psychopathology.
opioids; transgenic; anxiety; depression; mice; hyponeophagia; novelty
Natural variation in early parental care may contribute to long-term changes in behavior in the offspring. Here we investigate the role of variable early care in biparental prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Total amounts of parental care were initially quantified for 24 breeder pairs and pairs were ranked in relation to one another based on total contact. Consistency in key components of care suggested a trait-like quality to parental care. Based on this ranking, breeder pairs from the top (high-contact) and bottom (low-contact) quartiles were selected to produce high- and low-contact offspring to investigate adolescent behavior after varying early care. Parental care of subject offspring was again observed postnatally. Offspring of high-contact parents spent more time passively nursing and received more paternal non-huddling contact while low-contact offspring spent more time actively nursing and received more paternal huddling and pseudohuddling in the first postnatal days (PNDs). Low-contact offspring also displayed faster rates of development on a number of physical markers. Post-weaning, offspring were evaluated on anxiety-like behavior, social behavior and pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) to a tactile and an acoustic startle. High-contact offspring spent more time sniffing a juvenile and less time autogrooming. With an infant, high-contact offspring spent more time in non-huddling contact and less time autogrooming and retrieving than did low-contact offspring. Considering sexes separately, high-contact females spent more time sniffing a novel juvenile than low-contact females. High-contact males spent more time in non-huddling contact with an infant than low-contact males; while low-contact females retrieved infants more than high-contact females. In both measures of social behavior, high-contact males spent less time autogrooming than low-contact males. These results suggest a relationship between early-life care and differences in social behavior in adolescence.
parental care; natural variation; affiliation; alloparenting; social behavior
Cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain innervate discrete regions of the cortical mantle, bestowing the cholinergic system with the potential to dynamically modulate sub-regions of the cortex according to behavioral demands. Cortical cholinergic activity has been shown to facilitate learning and modulate attention. Experiments addressing these issues have primarily focused on widespread cholinergic depletions, extending to areas involved in general cognitive processes and sleep cycle regulation, making a definitive interpretation of the behavioral role of cholinergic projections difficult. Furthermore, a review of the electrophysiological literature suggests that cholinergic modulation is particularly important in representing the fine temporal details of stimuli, an issue rarely addressed in behavioral experimentation. The goal of this work is to understand the role of cholinergic projections, specific to the sensory cortices, in learning to discriminate fine differences in the temporal structure of stimuli. A novel visual Go/No-Go task was developed to assess the ability of rats to learn to discriminate fine differences in the temporal structure of visual stimuli (lights flashing at various frequencies). The cholinergic contribution to this task was examined by selective reduction of acetylcholine projections to visual cortex (VCx) (using 192 IgG-saporin), either before or after discrimination training. We find that in the face of compromised cholinergic input to the VCx, the rats' ability to learn to perform fine discriminations is impaired, whereas their ability to perform previously learned discriminations remains unaffected. These results suggest that acetylcholine serves the role of facilitating plastic changes in the sensory cortices that are necessary for an animal to refine its sensitivity to the temporal characteristics of relevant stimuli.
acetylcholine; timing and time perception; plasticity and learning; visual cortex; 192 IgG-saporin
Caenorhabditis elegans is suitable for studying the nervous system, which controls behavior. C. elegans shows sinusoidal locomotion on an agar plate. The head moves not only sinusoidally but also more complexly, which reflects regulation of the head muscles by the nervous system. The head movement becomes more irregular with senescence. To date, the head movement complexity has not been quantitatively analyzed. We propose two simple methods for evaluation of the head movement regularity on an agar plate using image analysis. The methods calculate metrics that are a measure of how the head end movement is correlated with body movement. In the first method, the length along the trace of the head end on the agar plate between adjacent intersecting points of the head trace and the quasi-midline of the head trace, which was made by sliding an averaging window of 1/2 the body wavelength, was obtained. Histograms of the lengths showed periodic movement of the head and deviation from it. In the second method, the intersections between the trace of the head end and the trace of the 5 (near the pharynx) or 50% (the mid-body) point from the head end in the centerline length of the worm image were marked. The length of the head trace between adjacent intersections was measured, and a histogram of the lengths was produced. The histogram for the 5% point showed deviation of the head end movement from the movement near the pharynx. The histogram for the 50% point showed deviation of the head movement from the sinusoidal movement of the body center. Application of these methods to wild type and several mutant strains enabled evaluation of their head movement periodicity and irregularity, and revealed a difference in the age-dependence of head movement irregularity between the strains. A set of five parameters obtained from the histograms reliably identifies differences in head movement between strains.
nematode; behavior; image analysis; mutant; senescence
Humans are usually accurate when estimating heading or path from optic flow, even in the presence of independently moving objects (IMOs) in an otherwise rigid scene. To invoke significant biases in perceived heading, IMOs have to be large and obscure the focus of expansion (FOE) in the image plane, which is the point of approach. For the estimation of path during curvilinear self-motion no significant biases were found in the presence of IMOs. What makes humans robust in their estimation of heading or path using optic flow? We derive analytical models of optic flow for linear and curvilinear self-motion using geometric scene models. Heading biases of a linear least squares method, which builds upon these analytical models, are large, larger than those reported for humans. This motivated us to study segmentation cues that are available from optic flow. We derive models of accretion/deletion, expansion/contraction, acceleration/deceleration, local spatial curvature, and local temporal curvature, to be used as cues to segment an IMO from the background. Integrating these segmentation cues into our method of estimating heading or path now explains human psychophysical data and extends, as well as unifies, previous investigations. Our analysis suggests that various cues available from optic flow help to segment IMOs and, thus, make humans' heading and path perception robust in the presence of such IMOs.
optic flow; self-motion; independently moving object; 3D motion models; kinetic contours
Stress during childhood and adolescence enhances the risk of psychopathology later in life. We have previously shown that subjecting male rats to stress during the peripubertal period induces long-lasting effects on emotion and social behaviors. As corticosterone is increased by stress and known to exert important programming effects, we reasoned that increasing corticosterone might mimic the effects of peripubertal stress. To this end, we injected corticosterone (5 mg/kg) on 7 scattered days during the peripuberty period (P28-P30, P34, P36, P40, and P42), following the same experimental schedule as for stress administration in our peripubertal paradigm. We measured play behavior in the homecage and, at adulthood, the corticosterone response to novelty and behavioral responses in tests for anxiety- and depression-like behaviors, aggression, and social exploration. As compared to vehicle, corticosterone-treated animals exhibit more aggressive play behavior during adolescence, increased aggressive behavior in a resident-intruder (RI) test while reduced juvenile exploration and corticosterone reactivity at adulthood. Whereas the corticosterone treatment mimicked alterations induced by the peripuberty stress protocol in the social domain, it did not reproduce previously observed effects of peripuberty stress on increasing anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors, respectively evaluated in the elevated plus maze (EPM) and the forced swim tests. Our findings indicate that increasing corticosterone levels during peripuberty might be instrumental to program alterations in the social domain observed following stress, whereas other factors might need to be recruited for the programming of long-term changes in emotionality. Our study opens the possibility that individual differences on the degree of glucocorticoid activation during peripuberty might be central to defining differences in vulnerability to develop psychopathological disorders coursing with alterations in the social realm.
corticosterone; puberty; adolescence; stress; sociability; aggressive behavior; emotion
Several models of heading detection during smooth pursuit rely on the assumption of local constraint line tuning to exist in large scale motion detection templates. A motion detector that exhibits pure constraint line tuning responds maximally to any 2D-velocity in the set of vectors that can be decomposed into the central, or classic, preferred velocity (the shortest vector that still yields the maximum response) and any vector orthogonal to that. To test this assumption, we measured the firing rates of isolated middle temporal (MT) and medial superior temporal (MST) neurons to random dot stimuli moving in a range of directions and speeds. We found that as a function of 2D velocity, the pooled responses were best fit with a 2D Gaussian profile with a factor of elongation, orthogonal to the central preferred velocity, of roughly 1.5 for MST and 1.7 for MT. This means that MT and MST cells are more sharply tuned for speed than they are for direction; and that they indeed show some level of constraint line tuning. However, we argue that the observed elongation is insufficient to achieve behavioral heading discrimination accuracy on the order of 1–2 degrees as reported before.
optic flow; visual motion; motion speed; motion direction; extrastriate cortex; area MT; area MST
The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme is critical for the catabolic regulation of synaptic dopamine, resulting in altered cortical functioning. The COMT Val158Met polymorphism has been implicated in human mental illness, with Met/Met homozygotes associated with increased susceptibility to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our primary objective was to examine the intermediate phenotype of fear inhibition in PTSD stratified by COMT genotype (Met/Met, Val/Met, and Val/Val) and differential gene regulation via methylation status at CpG sites in the COMT promoter region. More specifically, we examined the potential interaction of COMT genotype and PTSD diagnosis on fear-potentiated startle during fear conditioning and extinction and COMT DNA methylation levels (as determined using genomic DNA isolated from whole blood). Participants were recruited from medical and gynecological clinics of an urban hospital in Atlanta, GA, USA. We found that individuals with the Met/Met genotype demonstrated higher fear-potentiated startle to the CS− (safety signal) and during extinction of the CS+ (danger signal) compared to Val/Met and Val/Val genotypes. The PTSD+ Met/Met genotype group had the greatest impairment in fear inhibition to the CS− (p = 0.006), compared to Val carriers. In addition, the Met/Met genotype was associated with DNA methylation at four CpG sites, two of which were associated with impaired fear inhibition to the safety signal. These results suggest that multiple differential mechanisms for regulating COMT function – at the level of protein structure via the Val158Met genotype and at the level of gene regulation via differential methylation – are associated with impaired fear inhibition in PTSD.
catechol-O-methyltransferase; fear-potentiated startle; posttraumatic stress disorder; epigenetic; methylation; trauma
Episodic memory refers to a complex and multifaceted process which enables the retrieval of richly detailed evocative memories from the past. In contrast, semantic memory is conceptualized as the retrieval of general conceptual knowledge divested of a specific spatiotemporal context. The neural substrates of the episodic and semantic memory systems have been dissociated in healthy individuals during functional imaging studies, and in clinical cohorts, leading to the prevailing view that episodic and semantic memory represent functionally distinct systems subtended by discrete neurobiological substrates. Importantly, however, converging evidence focusing on widespread neural networks now points to significant overlap between those regions essential for retrieval of autobiographical memories, episodic learning, and semantic processing. Here we review recent advances in episodic memory research focusing on neurodegenerative populations which has proved revelatory for our understanding of the complex interplay between episodic and semantic memory. Whereas episodic memory research has traditionally focused on retrieval of autobiographical events from the past, we also include evidence from the recent paradigm shift in which episodic memory is viewed as an adaptive and constructive process which facilitates the imagining of possible events in the future. We examine the available evidence which converges to highlight the pivotal role of semantic memory in providing schemas and meaning whether one is engaged in autobiographical retrieval for the past, or indeed, is endeavoring to construct a plausible scenario of an event in the future. It therefore seems plausible to contend that semantic processing may underlie most, if not all, forms of episodic memory, irrespective of temporal condition.
semantic dementia; autobiographical memory; future thinking; Alzheimer’s disease; episodic memory; anterior temporal lobes; semantic memory