The amazing accuracy of migratory orientation performance across the animal kingdom is facilitated by the use of magnetic and celestial compass systems that provide individuals with both directional and positional information. Quantitative genetics analyses in several animal systems suggests that migratory orientation has a strong genetic component. Nevertheless, the exact identity of genes controlling orientation remains largely unknown, making it difficult to obtain an accurate understanding of this fascinating behavior on the molecular level. Here, we provide an overview of molecular genetic techniques employed thus far, highlight the pros and cons of various approaches, generalize results from species-specific studies whenever possible, and evaluate how far the field has come since early quantitative genetics studies. We emphasize the importance of examining different levels of molecular control, and outline how future studies can take advantage of high-resolution tracking and sequencing techniques to characterize the genomic architecture of migratory orientation.
seasonal migration; next-generation sequencing; candidate gene; genomics; transcriptomics; epigenetics
Different methods to elicit risk attitudes of individuals often provide differing results despite a common theory. Reasons for such inconsistencies may be the different influence of underlying factors in risk-taking decisions. In order to evaluate this conjecture, a better understanding of underlying factors across methods and decision contexts is desirable. In this paper we study the difference in result of two different risk elicitation methods by linking estimates of risk attitudes to gender, age, and personality traits, which have been shown to be related. We also investigate the role of these factors during decision-making in a dilemma situation. For these two decision contexts we also investigate the decision-maker's physiological state during the decision, measured by heart rate variability (HRV), which we use as an indicator of emotional involvement. We found that the two elicitation methods provide different individual risk attitude measures which is partly reflected in a different gender effect between the methods. Personality traits explain only relatively little in terms of driving risk attitudes and the difference between methods. We also found that risk taking and the physiological state are related for one of the methods, suggesting that more emotionally involved individuals are more risk averse in the experiment. Finally, we found evidence that personality traits are connected to whether individuals made a decision in the dilemma situation, but risk attitudes and the physiological state were not indicative for the ability to decide in this decision context.
risk preferences; elicitation methods; physiological measures; personality traits; dilemma decision
The primary motor cortex (M1) contributes to the acquisition and early consolidation of a motor sequence. Although the relevance of M1 excitability for motor learning has been supported, the significance of M1 oscillations remains an open issue. This study aims at investigating to what extent retrieval of a newly learned motor sequence can be differentially affected by motor-cortical transcranial alternating (tACS) and direct current stimulation (tDCS). Alpha (10 Hz), beta (20 Hz) or sham tACS was applied in 36 right-handers. Anodal or cathodal tDCS was applied in 30 right-handers. Participants learned an eight-digit serial reaction time task (SRTT; sequential vs. random) with the right hand. Stimulation was applied to the left M1 after SRTT acquisition at rest for 10 min. Reaction times were analyzed at baseline, end of acquisition, retrieval immediately after stimulation and reacquisition after eight further sequence repetitions. Reaction times during retrieval were significantly faster following 20 Hz tACS as compared to 10 Hz and sham tACS indicating a facilitation of early consolidation. tDCS yielded faster reaction times, too, independent of polarity. No significant differences between 20 Hz tACS and tDCS effects on retrieval were found suggesting that 20 Hz effects might be associated with altered motor-cortical excitability. Based on the behavioral modulation yielded by tACS and tDCS one might speculate that altered motor-cortical beta oscillations support early motor consolidation possibly associated with neuroplastic reorganization.
alpha oscillations; beta oscillations; consolidation; motor control; motor learning; neuromodulation; primary motor cortex (M1); serial reaction time task (SRTT)
Dopamine; Pavlovian Instrumental Transfer; Sign and goal tracking; set shifting; endocannabinoid system; basal forebrain non-cholinergic neurons; motivational salience; ADHD
Resignation syndrome (RS) designates a long-standing disorder predominately affecting psychologically traumatized children and adolescents in the midst of a strenuous and lengthy migration process. Typically a depressive onset is followed by gradual withdrawal progressing via stupor into a state that prompts tube feeding and is characterized by failure to respond even to painful stimuli. The patient is seemingly unconscious. Recovery ensues within months to years and is claimed to be dependent on the restoration of hope to the family. Descriptions of disorders resembling RS can be found in the literature and the condition is unlikely novel. Nevertheless, the magnitude and geographical distribution stand out. Several hundred cases have been reported exclusively in Sweden in the past decade prompting the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare to recognize RS as a separate diagnostic entity. The currently prevailing stress hypothesis fails to account for the regional distribution and contributes little to treatment. Consequently, a re-evaluation of diagnostics and treatment is required. Psychogenic catatonia is proposed to supply the best fit with the clinical presentation. Treatment response, altered brain metabolism or preserved awareness would support this hypothesis. Epidemiological data suggests culture-bound beliefs and expectations to generate and direct symptom expression and we argue that culture-bound psychogenesis can accommodate the endemic distribution. Last, we review recent models of predictive coding indicating how expectation processes are crucially involved in the placebo and nocebo effect, delusions and conversion disorders. Building on this theoretical framework we propose a neurobiological model of RS in which the impact of overwhelming negative expectations are directly causative of the down-regulation of higher order and lower order behavioral systems in particularly vulnerable individuals.
catatonia; migration; culture-bound syndrom; pervasive refusal; psychogenic; apathy; hopelessness; predictive coding
Background: Mental practice with motor imagery has been shown to promote motor skill acquisition in healthy subjects and patients. Although lesions of the common motor imagery and motor execution neural network are expected to impair motor imagery ability, functional equivalence appears to be at least partially preserved in stroke patients.
Aim: To identify brain regions that are mandatory for preserved motor imagery ability after stroke.
Thirty-seven patients with hemiplegia after a first time stroke participated. Motor imagery ability was measured using a Motor Imagery questionnaire and temporal congruence test. A voxelwise lesion symptom mapping approach was used to identify neural correlates of motor imagery in this cohort within the first year post-stroke.
Results: Poor motor imagery vividness was associated with lesions in the left putamen, left ventral premotor cortex and long association fibers linking parieto-occipital regions with the dorsolateral premotor and prefrontal areas. Poor temporal congruence was otherwise linked to lesions in the more rostrally located white matter of the superior corona radiata.
Conclusion: This voxel-based lesion symptom mapping study confirms the association between white matter tract lesions and impaired motor imagery ability, thus emphasizing the importance of an intact fronto-parietal network for motor imagery. Our results further highlight the crucial role of the basal ganglia and premotor cortex when performing motor imagery tasks.
motor imagery; stroke; lesion symptom mapping; basal ganglia; white matter
Objective: At present emotional experience and implicit emotion regulation (IER) abilities are mainly assessed though self-reports, which are subjected to several biases. The aim of the present studies was to validate the Clock’N test, a recently developed time estimation task employing emotional priming to assess implicitly emotional reactivity and IER.
Methods: In Study 1, the Clock’N test was administered to 150 healthy participants with different age, laterality and gender, in order to ascertain whether these factors affected the test results. In phase 1 participant were asked to judge the duration of seven sounds. In phase 2, before judging the duration of the same sounds, participants were presented with short arousing video-clip used as emotional priming stimuli. Time warp was calculated as the difference in time estimation between phase 2 and phase 1, and used to assess how emotions affected subjective time estimations. In study 2, a representative sample was selected to provide normative scores to be employed to assess emotional reactivity (Score 1) and IER (Score 2), and to calculate statistical cutoffs, based on the 10th and 90th score distribution percentiles.
Results: Converging with previous findings, the results of study 1 suggested that the Clock’N test can be employed to assess both emotional reactivity, as indexed by an initial time underestimation, and IER, as indexed by a progressive shift to time overestimation. No effects of gender, age and laterality were found.
Conclusions: These results suggest that the Clock’N test is adapted to assess emotional reactivity and IER. After collection of data on the test discriminant and convergent validity, this test may be employed to assess deficits in these abilities in different clinical populations.
emotional disorders; priming effect; skin conductance; time estimation; neuropsychological test
Spatial learning and memory deficits associated with hippocampal synaptic plasticity impairments are commonly observed during aging. Besides, the beneficial role of dietary polyphenols has been suggested as potential functional food candidates to prevent this memory decline. Indeed, polyphenols could potentiate the signaling pathways of synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory. In this study, spatial learning deficits of middle-aged mice were first highlighted and characterized according to their navigation patterns in the Morris water maze task. An eight-week polyphenol-enriched diet, containing a polyphenol-rich extract from grape and blueberry (PEGB; from the Neurophenols Consortium) with high contents of flavonoids, stilbenes and phenolic acids, was then successful in reversing these age-induced effects. The use of spatial strategies was indeed delayed with aging whereas a polyphenol supplementation could promote the occurrence of spatial strategies. These behavioral results were associated with neurobiological changes: while the expression of hippocampal calmodulin kinase II (CaMKII) mRNA levels was reduced in middle-aged animals, the polyphenol-enriched diet could rescue them. Besides, an increased expression of nerve growth neurotrophic factor (NGF) mRNA levels was also observed in supplemented adult and middle-aged mice. Thus these data suggest that supplementation with polyphenols could be an efficient nutritional way to prevent age-induced cognitive decline.
age; hippocampus; berries; polyphenols; learning and memory; strategy; navigation
Trait anxiety is thought to be associated with pathological anxiety, and a risk factor for psychiatric disorders. The present study examines the brain mechanisms associated with trait anxiety during the performing of verbal fluency tasks. The aim is to show how trait anxiety modulates executive functions as measured by verbal fluency, and to explore the link between verbal fluency and anxiety due to the putative negative biases in high-anxious individuals. Seven tasks of verbal fluency were used: letter “k,” “f,” verbs, “animals,” “vehicles,” “joy,” and “fear.” The results of 35 subjects (whole sample), and 17 subjects (nine men, eight women) selected from the whole sample for the low/high-anxious groups on the basis of Trait Anxiety scores were analyzed. The subjects were healthy, Polish speaking, right-handed and aged from 20 to 35 years old. fMRI (whole-brain analysis with FWE corrections) was used to show the neural signals under active participation in verbal fluency tasks. The results confirm that trait anxiety slightly modulates neural activation during the performance of verbal fluency tasks, especially in the more difficult tasks. Significant differences were found in brain activation during the performance of more complex tasks between individuals with low anxiety and those with high anxiety. Greater activation in the right hemisphere, frontal gyri, and cerebellum was found in people with low anxiety. The results reflect better integration of cognitive and affective capacities in individuals with low anxiety.
trait anxiety; verbal fluency; neuroimaging; executive functions
action observation; action perception; intention understanding; mentalizing; transcranial magnetic stimulation; state-dependent TMS
How a stimulus impacts spinal cord function depends upon temporal relations. When intermittent noxious stimulation (shock) is applied and the interval between shock pulses is varied (unpredictable), it induces a lasting alteration that inhibits adaptive learning. If the same stimulus is applied in a temporally regular (predictable) manner, the capacity to learn is preserved and a protective/restorative effect is engaged that counters the adverse effect of variable stimulation. Sensitivity to temporal relations implies a capacity to encode time. This study explores how spinal neurons discriminate variable and fixed spaced stimulation. Communication with the brain was blocked by means of a spinal transection and adaptive capacity was tested using an instrumental learning task. In this task, subjects must learn to maintain a hind limb in a flexed position to minimize shock exposure. To evaluate the possibility that a distinct class of afferent fibers provide a sensory cue for regularity, we manipulated the temporal relation between shocks given to two dermatomes (leg and tail). Evidence for timing emerged when the stimuli were applied in a coherent manner across dermatomes, implying that a central (spinal) process detects regularity. Next, we show that fixed spaced stimulation has a restorative effect when half the physical stimuli are randomly omitted, as long as the stimuli remain in phase, suggesting that stimulus regularity is encoded by an internal oscillator Research suggests that the oscillator that drives the tempo of stepping depends upon neurons within the rostral lumbar (L1-L2) region. Disrupting communication with the L1-L2 tissue by means of a L3 transection eliminated the restorative effect of fixed spaced stimulation. Implications of the results for step training and rehabilitation after injury are discussed.
spinal cord; time; instrumental learning; memory; central pattern generator
avoidance learning; anxiety disorders; depressive disorder; research domain criteria; expectancy; animal models of mental disorders; association learning; escape
Social learning is critical for humans to adapt and cope with rapidly changing surroundings. Although, neuroscience has focused on associative learning and pain empathy, the neural mechanisms of social learning through fleeting pain remains to be determined. This functional MRI study included three participant groups, to investigate how the neuro-hemodynamic response and subjective evaluation in response to the observation of hand actions were modulated by first-hand experience (FH), as well as indirect experience through social-observational (SO), and verbal-informed (VI) learning from fleeting pain. The results indicated, that these three learning groups share the common neuro-hemodynamic activations in the brain regions implicated in emotional awareness, memory, mentalizing, perspective taking, and emotional regulation. The anterior insular cortex (AIC) was commonly activated during these learning procedures. The amygdala was only activated by the FH. Dynamic causal modeling further indicated, that the SO and VI learning exhibited weaker connectivity strength from the AIC to superior frontal gyrus than did the FH. These findings demonstrate, that social learning elicits distinct neural responses from associative learning. The ontogeny of human empathy could be better understood with social learning from fleeting experience with pain.
social learning; pain; anterior insular cortex (AIC); dynamic causal modeling; empathy
Bombus terrestris is one of the most commonly used insect models to investigate visually guided behavior and spatial vision in particular. Two fundamental measures of spatial vision are spatial resolution and contrast sensitivity. In this study, we report the threshold of spatial resolution in B. terrestris and characterize the contrast sensitivity function of the bumblebee visual system for a dual choice discrimination task. We trained bumblebees in a Y-maze experimental set-up to associate a vertical sinusoidal grating with a sucrose reward, and a horizontal grating with absence of a reward. Using a logistic psychometric function, we estimated a resolution threshold of 0.21 cycles deg−1 of visual angle. This resolution is in the same range but slightly lower than that found in honeybees (Apis mellifera and A. cerana) and another bumblebee species (B. impatiens). We also found that the contrast sensitivity of B. terrestris was 1.57 for the spatial frequency 0.090 cycles deg−1 and 1.26 for 0.18 cycles deg−1.
spatial resolution; contrast sensitivity; insect vision; spatial vision; hymenoptera; bumblebees; dual choice test
Social living animals need to adjust the expression of their behavior to their status within the group and to changes in social context and this ability (social plasticity) has an impact on their Darwinian fitness. At the proximate level social plasticity must rely on neuroplasticity in the brain social decision-making network (SDMN) that underlies the expression of social behavior, such that the same neural circuit may underlie the expression of different behaviors depending on social context. Here we tested this hypothesis in zebrafish by characterizing the gene expression response in the SDMN to changes in social status of a set of genes involved in different types of neural plasticity: bdnf, involved in changes in synaptic strength; npas4, involved in contextual learning and dependent establishment of GABAergic synapses; neuroligins (nlgn1 and nlgn2) as synaptogenesis markers; and genes involved in adult neurogenesis (wnt3 and neurod). Four social phenotypes were experimentally induced: Winners and Losers of a real-opponent interaction; Mirror-fighters, that fight their own image in a mirror and thus do not experience a change in social status despite the expression of aggressive behavior; and non-interacting fish, which were used as a reference group. Our results show that each social phenotype (i.e., Winners, Losers, and Mirror-fighters) present specific patterns of gene expression across the SDMN, and that different neuroplasticity genes are differentially expressed in different nodes of the network (e.g., BDNF in the dorsolateral telencephalon, which is a putative teleost homolog of the mammalian hippocampus). Winners expressed unique patterns of gene co-expression across the SDMN, whereas in Losers and Mirror-fighters the co-expression patterns were similar in the dorsal regions of the telencephalon and in the supracommissural nucleus of the ventral telencephalic area, but differents in the remaining regions of the ventral telencephalon. These results indicate that social plasticity relies on multiple neuroplasticity mechanisms across the SDMN, and that there is not a single neuromolecular module underlying this type of behavioral flexibility.
behavioral flexibility; social competence; social behavior; neuroplasticity; synaptic plasticity; neurogenesis
Ecstatic epileptic seizures are a rare but compelling epileptic entity. During the first seconds of these seizures, ecstatic auras provoke feelings of well-being, intense serenity, bliss, and “enhanced self-awareness.” They are associated with the impression of time dilation, and can be described as a mystic experience by some patients. The functional neuroanatomy of ecstatic seizures is still debated. During recent years several patients presenting with ecstatic auras have been reported by others and us (in total n = 52); a few of them in the setting of presurgical evaluation including electrical brain stimulation. According to the recently recognized functions of the insula, and the results of nuclear brain imaging and electrical stimulation, the ecstatic symptoms in these patients seem to localize to a functional network centered around the anterior insular cortex, where we thus propose to locate this rare ictal phenomenon. Here we summarize the role of the multiple sensory, autonomic, affective, and cognitive functions of the insular cortex, which are integrated into the creation of self-awareness, and we suggest how this system may become dysfunctional on several levels during ecstatic aura.
ecstatic; epilepsy; bliss; self-awareness; insula; time dilation; predictive coding; salience
Sea turtles are capable of navigating across large expanses of ocean to arrive at remote islands for nesting, but how they do so has remained enigmatic. An interesting example involves green turtles (Chelonia mydas) that nest on Ascension Island, a tiny land mass located approximately 2000 km from the turtles’ foraging grounds along the coast of Brazil. Sensory cues that turtles are known to detect, and which might hypothetically be used to help locate Ascension Island, include the geomagnetic field, airborne odorants, and waterborne odorants. One possibility is that turtles use magnetic cues to arrive in the vicinity of the island, then use chemical cues to pinpoint its location. As a first step toward investigating this hypothesis, we used oceanic, atmospheric, and geomagnetic models to assess whether magnetic and chemical cues might plausibly be used by turtles to locate Ascension Island. Results suggest that waterborne and airborne odorants alone are insufficient to guide turtles from Brazil to Ascension, but might permit localization of the island once turtles arrive in its vicinity. By contrast, magnetic cues might lead turtles into the vicinity of the island, but would not typically permit its localization because the field shifts gradually over time. Simulations reveal, however, that the sequential use of magnetic and chemical cues can potentially provide a robust navigational strategy for locating Ascension Island. Specifically, one strategy that appears viable is following a magnetic isoline into the vicinity of Ascension Island until an odor plume emanating from the island is encountered, after which turtles might either: (1) initiate a search strategy; or (2) follow the plume to its island source. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that sea turtles, and perhaps other marine animals, use a multi-modal navigational strategy for locating remote islands.
navigation; magnetism; sea turtles; homing; olfaction
Various psychostimulants targeting monoamine neurotransmitter transporters (MATs) have been shown to rescue cognition in patients with neurological disorders and improve cognitive abilities in healthy subjects at low doses. Here, we examined the effects upon cognition of a chemically synthesized novel MAT inhibiting compound 2-(benzhydrylsulfinylmethyl)-4-methylthiazole (named as CE-104). The efficacy of CE-104 in blocking MAT [dopamine transporter (DAT), serotonin transporter (SERT), and norepinephrine transporter] was determined using in vitro neurotransmitter uptake assay. The effect of the drug at low doses (1 and 10 mg/kg) on spatial memory was studied in male rats in the radial arm maze (RAM). Furthermore, the dopamine receptor and transporter complex levels of frontal cortex (FC) tissue of trained and untrained animals treated either with the drug or vehicle were quantified on blue native PAGE (BN-PAGE). The drug inhibited dopamine (IC50: 27.88 μM) and norepinephrine uptake (IC50: 160.40 μM), but had a negligible effect on SERT. In the RAM, both drug-dose groups improved spatial working memory during the performance phase of RAM as compared to vehicle. BN-PAGE Western blot quantification of dopamine receptor and transporter complexes revealed that D1, D2, D3, and DAT complexes were modulated due to training and by drug effects. The drug’s ability to block DAT and its influence on DAT and receptor complex levels in the FC is proposed as a possible mechanism for the observed learning and memory enhancement in the RAM.
CE-104; cognitive enhancement; dopamine uptake inhibitor; monoamine neurotransmitter uptake inhibitor; radial arm maze; dopamine receptor complexes; dopamine transporter complexes
Introduction: An increased prevalence of pathological electroencephalography (EEG) signals has been reported in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). In an elaborative case description of such a patient with intermittent rhythmic delta and theta activity (IRDA/IRTA), the BPD symptoms where linked to the frequency of the IRDAs/IRTAs and vanished with the IRDAs/IRTAs following anticonvulsive therapy. This observation raised a question regarding the prevalence of such EEG abnormalities in BPD patients. The aim of this retrospective study was to identify the frequency of EEG abnormalities in a carefully analyzed psychiatric collective. Following earlier reports, we hypothesized an increased prevalence of EEG abnormalities in BPD patients.
Participants and Methods: We recruited 96 consecutive patients with BPD from the archive of a university clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy, and compared the prevalence of EEG abnormalities to those of 76 healthy controls subjects. The EEGs were rated by three different blinded clinicians, including a consultant specializing in epilepsy from the local epilepsy center.
Results: We found a significant increase in the prevalence of IRDAs and IRTAs in BPD patients (14.6%) compared to the control subjects (3.9%; p = 0.020).
Discussion: In this blinded retrospective case-control study, we were able to confirm an increased prevalence of pathological EEG findings (IRDAs/IRTAs only) in BPD patients. The major limitation of this study is that the control group was not matched on age and gender. Therefore, the results should be regarded as preliminary findings of an open uncontrolled, retrospective study. Future research performing prospective, controlled studies is needed to verify our findings and answer the question of whether such EEG findings might predict a positive response to anticonvulsive pharmacological treatment.
IRDA; IRTA; local area network inhibition; EEG; borderline personality disorder
In a virtual point-to-origin task, participants seem to show different response patterns and underlying strategies for orientation, such as “turner” and “non-turner” response patterns. Turners respond as if succeeding to update simulated heading changes, and non-turners respond as if failing to update their heading, resulting in left-right hemisphere errors. We present two other response patterns, “non-movers” and “spinners,” that also appear to result in failures to update heading. We have three specific goals in mind: (1) extend previous findings of higher turner rates with spatial language response mode using a point-to-origin task instead of a triangle completion task; (2) replicate the gender effect of males more likely responding as turners; (3) examine ethnicity influence. Designed as a classroom study, we presented participants (N = 498) with four passages through a virtual star field. Participants selected the direction pointing to the origin from four multiple-choice items. Response mode was either pictograms or written language, chosen to compare with similar studies and see if these response modes have an effect on virtual orientation behavior. Results show a majority of participants (48.35%) classified as non-turners, 32.93% turners, 15.57% as non-movers, and 3.14% as spinners. A multinomial regression model reached 49% classification performance. Written spatial language, compared to pictograms, made turner response patterns more likely; this effect was more pronounced for Chinese participants and among females, but not male Caucasians. Moreover, higher turner numbers for written spatial language extends Avraamides findings of higher turner numbers when participants turned their bodies toward the origin but not when they responded verbally. Using pictorial response mode (i.e., top-down picture of a head) may have increased cognitive load because it could be considered more embodied. It remains to be seen how we can reduce the reference frame conflict that might have caused increased cognitive load. Second, our results are inconsistent with previous research in that males overall did not show more turner behavior than females. Future research may look at possible underlying factors, such as cultural norms. Third, individualistic cultures (Caucasians; Greif, 1994) lean toward turner response patterns, whereas collectivist cultures (Asian) lean toward non-turner response patterns.
spatial navigation; reference frames; path integration; navigational strategies; gender differences; ethnicity differences
Migratory birds use multiple compass systems for orientation, including a magnetic, star and sun/polarized light compass. To keep these compasses in register, birds have to regularly update them with respect to a common reference. However, cue-conflict studies have revealed contradictory results on the compass hierarchy, favoring either celestial or magnetic compass cues as the primary calibration reference. Both the geomagnetic field and polarized light cues present at sunrise and sunset have been shown to play a role in compass cue integration, and evidence suggests that polarized light cues at sunrise and sunset may provide the primary calibration reference for the other compass systems. We tested whether migratory garden warblers recalibrated their compasses when they were exposed to the natural celestial cues at sunset in a shifted magnetic field, which are conditions that have been shown to be necessary for the use of a compass reference based on polarized light cues. We released the birds on the same evening under a starry sky and followed them by radio tracking. We found no evidence of compass recalibration, even though the birds had a full view of polarized light cues near the horizon at sunset during the cue-conflict exposure. Based on a meta-analysis of the available literature, we propose an extended unifying theory on compass cue hierarchy used by migratory birds to calibrate the different compasses. According to this scheme, birds recalibrate their magnetic compass by sunrise/sunset polarized light cues, provided they have access to the vertically aligned band of maximum polarization near the horizon and a view of landmarks. Once the stars appear in the sky, the birds then recalibrate the star compass with respect of the recalibrated magnetic compass. If sunrise and sunset information can be viewed from the same location, the birds average the information to get a true geographic reference. If polarized light information is not available near the horizon at sunrise or sunset, the birds temporarily transfer the previously calibrated magnetic compass information to the available celestial compasses. We conclude that the type of cue-conflict manipulation and the availability of stars can explain the discrepancies between studies.
bird orientation; compass; calibration; migration; magnetic field; stars; sun; polarized light
Cognitive rehabilitation in multiple sclerosis (MS) has been reported to induce neuropsychological improvements, but the persistence of these effects has been scarcely investigated over long follow ups. Here, the results of a multicenter randomized clinical trial are reported, in which the efficacy of 15 week domain specific cognitive training was evaluated at 2 years follow up in 41 patients. Included patients were randomly assigned either to domain specific cognitive rehabilitation, or to aspecific psychological intervention. Patients who still resulted to be cognitively impaired at 1 year follow up were resubmitted to the same treatment, whereas the recovered ones were not. Neuropsychological tests and functional scales were administered at 2 years follow up to all the patients. Results revealed that both at 1 and at 2 years follow up more patients in the aspecific group (18/19, 94% and 13/17, 76% respectively) than in the specific group (11/22, 50% and 5/15, 33% respectively) resulted to be cognitively impaired. Furthermore patients belonging to the specific group showed significantly less impaired tests compared with the aspecific group ones (p = 0.02) and a significant amelioration in the majority of the tests. On the contrary patients in the aspecific group did not change. The specific group subjects also perceived a subjective improvement in their cognitive performance, while the aspecific group patients did not. These results showed that short time domain specific cognitive rehabilitation is a useful treatment for patients with MS, shows very long lasting effects, compared to aspecific psychological interventions. Also subjective cognitive amelioration was found in patients submitted to domain specific treatment after 2 years.
multiple sclerosis; cognitive rehabilitation; randomize clinical trial; neuropsychology
In mental health practice, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments are aimed at improving neuropsychological symptoms, including cognitive and emotional impairments. However, at present there is no established neuropsychological test battery that comprehensively covers multiple affective domains relevant in a range of disorders. Our objective was to generate a standardized test battery, comprised of existing, adapted and novel tasks, to assess four core domains of affective cognition (emotion processing, motivation, impulsivity and social cognition) in order to facilitate and enhance treatment development and evaluation in a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders. The battery was administered to 200 participants aged 18–50 years (50% female), 42 of whom were retested in order to assess reliability. An exploratory factor analysis identified 11 factors with eigenvalues greater than 1, which accounted for over 70% of the variance. Tasks showed moderate to excellent test-retest reliability and were not strongly correlated with demographic factors such as age or IQ. The EMOTICOM test battery is therefore a promising tool for the assessment of affective cognitive function in a range of contexts.
EMOTICOM; neuropsychological tests; social cognition; motivation and emotion; implusivity; neuropsychiatry; mental health
Previous studies investigated the distinct roles played by different cognitive regions and suggested that the patterns of connectivity of these regions are associated with working memory (WM). However, the specific causal mechanism through which the neuronal circuits that involve these brain regions contribute to WM is still unclear. Here, in a large sample of healthy young adults, we first identified the core WM regions by linking WM accuracy to resting-state functional connectivity with the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dLPFC; a principal region in the central-executive network, CEN). Then a spectral dynamic causal modeling (spDCM) analysis was performed to quantify the effective connectivity between these regions. Finally, the effective connectivity was correlated with WM accuracy to characterize the relationship between these connections and WM performance. We found that the functional connections between the bilateral dLPFC and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and between the right dLPFC and the left orbital fronto-insular cortex (FIC) were correlated with WM accuracy. Furthermore, the effective connectivity from the dACC to the bilateral dLPFC and from the right dLPFC to the left FIC could predict individual differences in WM. Because the dACC and FIC are core regions of the salience network (SN), we inferred that the inter- and causal-connectivity between core regions within the CEN and SN is functionally relevant for WM performance. In summary, the current study identified the dLPFC-related resting-state effective connectivity underlying WM and suggests that individual differences in cognitive ability could be characterized by resting-state effective connectivity.
working memory; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; resting state fMRI; functional connectivity; effective connectivity; spectral dynamic causal modeling
Background: Cognitive performance is a complex process influenced by multiple factors. Cognitive assessment in experimental animals is often based on longitudinal datasets analyzed using uni- and multi-variate analyses, that do not account for the temporal dimension of cognitive performance and also do not adequately quantify the relative contribution of individual factors onto the overall behavioral outcome. To circumvent these limitations, we applied an Autoregressive Latent Trajectory (ALT) to analyze the Morris water maze (MWM) test in a complex experimental design involving four factors: stress, age, sex, and genotype. Outcomes were compared with a traditional Mixed-Design Factorial ANOVA (MDF ANOVA).
Results: In both the MDF ANOVA and ALT models, sex, and stress had a significant effect on learning throughout the 9 days. However, on the ALT approach, the effects of sex were restricted to the learning growth. Unlike the MDF ANOVA, the ALT model revealed the influence of single factors at each specific learning stage and quantified the cross interactions among them. In addition, ALT allows us to consider the influence of baseline performance, a critical and unsolved problem that frequently yields inaccurate interpretations in the classical ANOVA model.
Discussion: Our findings suggest the beneficial use of ALT models in the analysis of complex longitudinal datasets offering a better biological interpretation of the interrelationship of the factors that may influence cognitive performance.
auto-regressive latent trajectories; reference learning; longitudinal assessments