Dopamine is an important regulator of cognition and behavior, but its precise influence on human brain processing remains unclear because of the lack of a reliable technique to study dopamine in the live human brain. In the recent years, a number of techniques have been developed to detect, map, and measure dopamine released during task performance. Most of these techniques are based on molecular imaging methods and have varying degrees of sensitivity. We developed a single-scan dynamic molecular imaging technique for the detection of dopamine released during task performance in the live human brain. This technique is extremely sensitive and has test–retest reliability. Using this technique, we detected dopamine released during the processing of a number of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional tasks. Since this technique acquires data that cannot be obtained using any other techniques, it extends the scope of neuroimaging research.
dopamine; molecular imaging; raclopride; fallypride; cognition; behavior; emotion; attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
All of us are familiar with the negative impact of interference on achieving our task goals. We are referring to interference by information, which either impinges on our senses from an external environmental source or is internally generated by our thoughts. Informed by more than a decade of research on the cognitive and neural processing of interference, we have developed a framework for understanding how interference impacts our neural systems and especially how it is regulated and suppressed during efficient on-task performance. Importantly, externally and internally generated interferences have distinct neural signatures, and further, distinct neural processing emerges depending on whether individuals must ignore and suppress the interference, as for distractions, or engage with them in a secondary task, as during multitasking. Here, we elaborate on this cognitive framework and how it changes throughout the human lifespan, focusing mostly on research evidence from younger adults and comparing these findings to data from older adults, children, and cognitively impaired populations. With insights gleaned from our growing understanding, we then describe three novel translational efforts in our lab directed at improving distinct aspects of interference resolution using cognitive training. Critically, these training approaches were specifically developed to target improved interference resolution based on neuroplasticity principles and have shown much success in randomized controlled first version evaluations in healthy aging. Our results show not only on-task training improvements but also robust generalization of benefit to other cognitive control abilities. This research showcases how an in-depth understanding of neural mechanisms can then inform the development of effective deficit-targeted interventions, which can in turn benefit both healthy and cognitively impaired populations.
interference; distraction; multitasking; attention; cognitive control; cognitive training; neuroplasticity; aging
Inhibitory interactions between neurons of the respiratory network are involved in rhythm generation and pattern formation. Using a computational model of brainstem respiratory networks, we investigated the possible effects of suppressing glycinergic inhibition on the activity of different respiratory neuron types. Our study revealed that progressive suppression of glycinergic inhibition affected all neurons of the network and disturbed neural circuits involved in termination of inspiration. Causal was a dysfunction of postinspiratory inhibition targeting inspiratory neurons, which often led to irregular preterm reactivation of these neurons, producing double or multiple short-duration inspiratory bursts. An increasing blockade of glycinergic inhibition led to apneustic inspiratory activity. Similar disturbances of glycinergic inhibition also occur during hypoxia. A clear difference in prolonged hypoxia, however, is that the rhythm terminates in expiratory apnea. The critical function of glycinergic inhibition for normal respiratory rhythm generation and the consequences of its reduction, including in pathological conditions, are discussed.
computational modeling; respiratory rhythm; pre-Bötzinger complex; glycinergic inhibition; apneusis; apnea; hypoxia; translational medicine
The pre-Bötzinger complex (pre-BötC), a neural structure involved in respiratory rhythm generation, can generate rhythmic bursting activity in vitro that persists after blockade of synaptic inhibition. Experimental studies have identified two mechanisms potentially involved in this activity: one based on the persistent sodium current (INaP) and the other involving calcium (ICa) and/or calcium-activated nonspecific cation (ICAN) currents. In this modeling study, we investigated bursting generated in single neurons and excitatory neural populations with randomly distributed conductances of INaP and ICa. We analyzed the possible roles of these currents, the Na+/K+ pump, synaptic mechanisms, and network interactions in rhythmic bursting generated under different conditions. We show that a population of synaptically coupled excitatory neurons with randomly distributed INaP- and/or ICAN-mediated burst generating mechanisms can operate in different oscillatory regimes with bursting dependent on either current or independent of both. The existence of multiple oscillatory regimes and their state dependence may explain rhythmic activities observed in the pre-BötC under different conditions.
neural oscillations; respiration; persistent sodium current; calcium-activated nonspecific cation current; sodium–potassium pump
Cardiorespiratory coupling is an encompassing term describing more than the well-recognized influences of respiration on heart rate and blood pressure. Our data indicate that cardiorespiratory coupling reflects a reciprocal interaction between autonomic and respiratory control systems, and the cardiovascular system modulates the ventilatory pattern as well. For example, cardioventilatory coupling refers to the influence of heart beats and arterial pulse pressure on respiration and is the tendency for the next inspiration to start at a preferred latency after the last heart beat in expiration. Multiple complementary, well-described mechanisms mediate respiration’s influence on cardiovascular function, whereas mechanisms mediating the cardiovascular system’s influence on respiration may only be through the baroreceptors but are just being identified. Our review will describe a differential effect of conditioning rats with either chronic intermittent or sustained hypoxia on sympathetic nerve activity but also on ventilatory pattern variability. Both intermittent and sustained hypoxia increase sympathetic nerve activity after 2 weeks but affect sympatho-respiratory coupling differentially. Intermittent hypoxia enhances sympatho-respiratory coupling, which is associated with low variability in the ventilatory pattern. In contrast, after constant hypobaric hypoxia, 1-to-1 coupling between bursts of sympathetic and phrenic nerve activity is replaced by 2-to-3 coupling. This change in coupling pattern is associated with increased variability of the ventilatory pattern. After baro-denervating hypobaric hypoxic-conditioned rats, splanchnic sympathetic nerve activity becomes tonic (distinct bursts are absent) with decreases during phrenic nerve bursts and ventilatory pattern becomes regular. Thus, conditioning rats to either intermittent or sustained hypoxia accentuates the reciprocal nature of cardiorespiratory coupling. Finally, identifying a compelling physiologic purpose for cardiorespiratory coupling is the biggest barrier for recognizing its significance. Cardiorespiratory coupling has only a small effect on the efficiency of gas exchange; rather, we propose that cardiorespiratory control system may act as weakly coupled oscillator to maintain rhythms within a bounded variability.
neural control of heart rate; neural control of sympathetic nerve activity; neural control of respiration; weakly coupled oscillators
Until recently, knowledge of the impact of abuse drugs on gene and protein expression in the brain was limited to less than 100 targets. With the advent of high-throughput genomic and proteomic techniques investigators are now able to evaluate changes across the entire genome and across thousands of proteins in defined brain regions and generate expression profiles of vulnerable neuroanatomical substrates in rodent and non-human primate drug abuse models and in human post-mortem brain tissue from drug abuse victims. The availability of gene and protein expression profiles will continue to expand our understanding of the short- and long-term consequences of drug addiction and other addictive disorders and may provide new approaches or new targets for pharmacotherapeutic intervention. This chapter will review gene expression data from rodent, non-human primate and human post-mortem studies of cocaine abuse and will provide a preliminary proteomic profile of human cocaine abuse and explore how these studies have advanced our understanding of addiction.
microarray; RNA amplification; gene expression; molecular fingerprint; qPCR; transcriptome; proteome; brain; post-mortem; monkey
Aphasia is an acquired language disorder with a diverse set of symptoms that can affect virtually any linguistic modality across both the comprehension and production of spoken language. Partial recovery of language function after injury is common but typically incomplete. Rehabilitation strategies focus on behavioral training to induce plasticity in underlying neural circuits to maximize linguistic recovery. Understanding the different neural circuits underlying diverse language functions is a key to developing more effective treatment strategies. This chapter discusses a systems identification analytic approach to the study of linguistic neural representation. The focus of this framework is a quantitative, model-based characterization of speech and language neural representations that can be used to decode, or predict, speech representations from measured brain activity. Recent results of this approach are discussed in the context of applications to understanding the neural basis of aphasia symptoms and the potential to optimize plasticity during the rehabilitation process.
aphasia; speech; language; neural encoding; decoding
The transition from quiet wakeful rest to sleep represents a period over which attention to the external environment fades. Neuroimaging methodologies have provided much information on the shift in neural activity patterns in sleep, but the dynamic restructuring of human brain networks in the transitional period from wake to sleep remains poorly understood. Analysis of electrophysiological measures and functional network connectivity of these early transitional states shows subtle shifts in network architecture that are consistent with reduced external attentiveness and increased internal and self-referential processing. Further, descent to sleep is accompanied by the loss of connectivity in anterior and posterior portions of the default-mode network and more locally organized global network architecture. These data clarify the complex and dynamic nature of the transitional period between wake and sleep and suggest the need for more studies investigating the dynamics of these processes.
sleep; functional connectivity; graph theory; brain networks; alpha EEG; fMRI; EEG/fMRI
We can learn about the evolution of neocortex in primates through comparative studies of cortical organization in primates and those mammals that are the closest living relatives of primates, in conjunction with brain features revealed by the skull endocasts of fossil archaic primates. Such studies suggest that early primates had acquired a number of features of neocortex that now distinguish modern primates. Most notably, early primates had an array of new visual areas, and those visual areas widely shared with other mammals had been modified. Posterior parietal cortex was greatly expanded with sensorimotor modules for reaching, grasping, and personal defense. Motor cortex had become more specialized for hand use, and the functions of primary motor cortex were enhanced by the addition and development of premotor and cingulate motor areas. Cortical architecture became more varied, and cortical neuron populations became denser overall than in nonprimate ancestors. Primary visual cortex had the densest population of neurons, and this became more pronounced in the anthropoid radiation. Within the primate clade, considerable variability in cortical size, numbers of areas, and architecture evolved.
prosimians; tarsiers; anthropoids; sensory cortex; motor cortex
Motor learning is an essential part of human behavior, but poorly understood in the context of walking control. Here, we discuss our recent work on locomotor adaptation, which is an error driven motor learning process used to alter spatiotemporal elements of walking. Locomotor adaptation can be induced using a split-belt treadmill that controls the speed of each leg independently. Practicing split-belt walking changes the coordination between the legs, resulting in storage of a new walking pattern. Here, we review findings from this experimental paradigm regarding the learning and generalization of locomotor adaptation. First, we discuss how split-belt walking adaptation develops slowly throughout childhood and adolescence. Second, we demonstrate that conscious effort to change the walking pattern during split-belt training can speed up adaptation but worsens retention. In contrast, distraction (i.e., performing a dual task) during training slows adaptation but improves retention. Finally, we show the walking pattern acquired on the split-belt treadmill generalizes to natural walking when vision is removed. This suggests that treadmill learning can be generalized to different contexts if visual cues specific to the treadmill are removed. These findings allow us to highlight the many future questions that will need to be answered in order to develop more rational methods of rehabilitation for walking deficits.
locomotion; motor learning; adaptation; generalization of learning; rehabilitation
Epidemiological studies show that adverse cardiovascular events peak in the morning (i.e., between 6 AM and noon) and that shift work is associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The endogenous circadian timing system modulates certain cardiovascular risk markers to be highest (e.g., cortisol, nonlinear dynamic heart rate control, and platelet activation) or to respond most unfavorably to stressors such as exercise (e.g., epinephrine, norepinephrine, and vagal cardiac modulation) at an internal body time corresponding to the time of day when adverse cardiovascular events most likely occur. This indicates that the circadian timing system and its interaction with external cardiovascular stressors (e.g., physical activity) could contribute to the morning peak in adverse cardiovascular events. Moreover, circadian misalignment and simulated night work have adverse effects on cardiovascular and metabolic function. This suggests that misalignment between the behavioral cycle and the circadian timing system in shift workers contributes to that population’s increased risk for cardiometabolic disease.
biological clock; circadian misalignment; glucose metabolism; heart; night work; shift work; suprachiasmatic nucleus
The cochlear implant (CI) is one of the great success stories of modern medicine. A high level of function is provided for most patients. However, some patients still do not achieve excellent or even good results using the present-day devices. Accumulating evidence is pointing to differences in the processing abilities of the “auditory brain” among patients as a principal contributor to this remaining and still large variability in outcomes. In this chapter, we describe a new approach to the design of CIs that takes these differences into account and thereby may improve outcomes for patients with compromised auditory brains.
cochlear implant; cochlear prosthesis; auditory prosthesis; brain–machine interface; brain plasticity; neural prostheses; hearing; deafness; central auditory processing; auditory cortex
After birth, there is striking biological and functional development of the brain’s fiber tracts as well as remodeling of cortical and subcortical structures. Behavioral development in children involves a complex and dynamic set of genetically guided processes by which neural structures interact constantly with the environment. This is a protracted process, beginning in the third week of gestation and continuing into early adulthood. Reviewed here are studies using structural imaging techniques, with a special focus on diffusion weighted imaging, describing age-related brain maturational changes in children and adolescents, as well as studies that link these changes to behavioral differences. Finally, we discuss evidence for effects on the brain of several factors that may play a role in mediating these brain–behavior associations in children, including genetic variation, behavioral interventions, and hormonal variation associated with puberty. At present longitudinal studies are few, and we do not yet know how variability in individual trajectories of biological development in specific neural systems map onto similar variability in behavioral trajectories.
MRI; DTI; brain development; cognitive development; individual differences; fiber tracts
A panic response is an adaptive response to deal with an imminent threat and consists of an integrated pattern of behavioral (aggression, fleeing or freezing) and increased cardiorespiratory and endocrine responses that are highly conserved across vertebrate species. In the 1920’s and 1940’s Philip Bard and Walter Hess respectively determined that the posterior regions of the hypothalamus are critical for a “fight-or-flight” reaction to deal with an imminent threat. Since the 1940’s it was determined that the posterior hypothalamic panic area was located dorsal (perifornical nucleus: PeF) and dorsomedial (dorsomedial hypothalamus: DMH) to the fornix. This area is also critical for regulating circadian rhythms and in 1998, a novel wake-promoting neuropeptide called orexin/hypocretin (ORX) was discovered and determined to be almost exclusively synthesized in the DMH/PeF and adjacent lateral hypothalamus. The most proximally emergent role of ORX is in regulation of wakefulness through interactions with efferent systems that mediate arousal and energy homeostasis. A hypoactive ORX system is also linked to narcolepsy. However, ORX’s role in more complex emotional responses is emerging in more recent studies where ORX is linked to depression and anxiety states. Here we review data that, demonstrates ORX’s ability to mobilize a coordinated adaptive panic/defence response (anxiety, cardiorespiratory and endocrine components), and summarize the evidence that supports a hyperactive ORX system being linked to pathological panic and anxiety states.
Neural prosthetic systems aim to help disabled patients suffering from a range of neurological injuries and disease by using neural activity from the brain to directly control assistive devices. This approach in effect bypasses the dysfunctional neural circuitry, such as an injured spinal cord. To do so, neural prostheses depend critically on a scientific understanding of the neural activity that drives them. We review here several recent studies aimed at understanding the neural processes in premotor cortex that precede arm movements and lead to the initiation of movement. These studies were motivated by hypotheses and predictions conceived of within a dynamical systems perspective. This perspective concentrates on describing the neural state using as few degrees of freedom as possible and on inferring the rules that govern the motion of that neural state. Although quite general, this perspective has led to a number of specific predictions that have been addressed experimentally. It is hoped that the resulting picture of the dynamical role of preparatory and movement-related neural activity will be particularly helpful to the development of neural prostheses, which can themselves be viewed as dynamical systems under the control of the larger dynamical system to which they are attached.
premotor cortex; motor cortex; motor preparation; state space; dynamical systems; singletrial analysis; neural prostheses; brain machine interface; brain computer interface
Breathing emerges through complex network interactions involving neurons distributed throughout the nervous system. The respiratory rhythm generating network is composed of micro networks functioning within larger networks to generate distinct rhythms and patterns that characterize breathing. The pre-Bötzinger complex, a rhythm generating network located within the ventrolateral medulla assumes a core function without which respiratory rhythm generation and breathing cease altogether. It contains subnetworks with distinct synaptic and intrinsic membrane properties that give rise to different types of respiratory rhythmic activities including eupneic, sigh, and gasping activities. While critical aspects of these rhythmic activities are preserved when isolated in in vitro preparations, the pre-Bötzinger complex functions in the behaving animal as part of a larger network that receives important inputs from areas such as the pons and parafacial nucleus. The respiratory network is also an integrator of modulatory and sensory inputs that imbue the network with the important ability to adapt to changes in the behavioral, metabolic, and developmental conditions of the organism. This review summarizes our current understanding of these interactions and relates the emerging concepts to insights gained in other rhythm generating networks.
Breathing; Respiratory rhythm generation; Pre-Botzinger complex and interactions
Neural activity in the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) has been associated with attention to a location in visual space, and with the intention to make saccadic eye movement. In this study we show that neurons in LIP respond to recently flashed task-irrelevant stimuli and saccade targets brought into the receptive field by a saccade, although they respond much to the same stimuli when they are stable in the environment. LIP neurons respond to the appearance of a flashed distractor even when a monkey is planning a memory-guided delayed saccade elsewhere. We then show that a monkey’s attention, as defined by an increase in contrast sensitivity, is pinned to the goal of a memory-guided saccade throughout the delay period, unless a distractor appears, in which case attention transiently moves to the site of the distractor and then returns to the goal of the saccade. LIP neurons respond to both the saccade goal and the distractor, and this activity correlates with the monkey’s locus of attention. In particular, the activity of LIP neurons predicts when attention migrates from the distractor back to the saccade goal. We suggest that the activity in LIP provides a salience map that is interpreted by the oculomotor system as a saccade goal when a saccade is appropriate, and simultaneously is used by the visual system to determine the locus of attention.
lateral intraparietal area; saccade; attention; contrast sensitivity; monkey
Of the several aquaporin (AQP) water channels expressed in the central nervous system, AQP4 is an attractive target for drug discovery. AQP4 is expressed in astroglia, most strongly at the blood–brain and brain–cerebrospinal fluid barriers. Phenotype analysis of AQP4 knockout mice indicates the involvement of AQP4 in three distinct processes: brain water balance, astroglial cell migration and neural signal transduction. By slowing water uptake into the brain, AQP4 knockout mice manifest reduced brain swelling and improved outcome in models of cytotoxic cerebral oedema such as water intoxication, focal ischaemia and meningitis. However, by slowing the clearance of excess water from brain, AQP4 knockout mice do worse in models of vasogenic oedema such as brain tumour, abscess and hydrocephalus. AQP4 deficient astroglial cells show greatly impaired migration in response to chemotactic stimuli, reducing glial scar formation, by a mechanism that we propose involves AQP4-facilitated water flux in lamellipodia of migrating cells. AQP4 knockout mice also manifest increased seizure threshold and duration, by a mechanism that may involve slowed K+ uptake from the extracellular space (ECS) following neuroexcitation, as well as ECS expansion. Notwithstanding challenges in drug delivery to the central nervous system and their multiplicity of actions, AQP4 inhibitors have potential utility in reducing cytotoxic brain swelling, increasing seizure threshold and reducing glial scar formation; enhancers of AQP4 expression have potential utility in reducing vasogenic brain swelling. AQP4 modulators may thus offer new therapeutic options for stroke, tumour, infection, hydrocephalus, epilepsy and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury.
AQP4; water transport; transgenic mouse; brain oedema; cell migration; epilepsy
Sleep, which is evolutionarily conserved across species, is a biological imperative that cannot be ignored or replaced. However, the percentage of habitually sleep-restricted adults has increased in recent decades. Extended work hours and commutes, shift work schedules, and television viewing are particularly potent social factors that influence sleep duration. Chronic partial sleep restriction, a product of these social expediencies, leads to the accumulation of sleep debt over time and consequently increases sleep propensity, decreases alertness, and impairs critical aspects of cognitive functioning. Significant interindividual variability in the neurobehavioral responses to sleep restriction exists—this variability is stable and phenotypic—suggesting a genetic basis. Identifying vulnerability to sleep loss is essential as many adults cannot accurately judge their level of impairment in response to sleep restriction. Indeed, the consequences of impaired performance and the lack of insight due to sleep loss can be catastrophic. In order to cope with the effects of social expediencies on biological imperatives, identification of biological (including genetic) and behavioral markers of sleep loss vulnerability as well as development of technological approaches for fatigue management are critical.
sleep deprivation; sleep duration; neurobehavioral functions; fatigue management; individual differences; genetics; biomarkers
Basic tendencies to detect and respond to significant events are present in the simplest single cell organisms, and persist throughout all invertebrates and vertebrates. Within vertebrates, the overall brain plan is highly conserved, though differences in size and complexity also exist. The forebrain differs the most between mammals and other vertebrates. The classic notion that the evolution of mammals led to radical changes such that new forebrain structures (limbic system and neocortex) were added has not held up, nor has the idea that so-called limbic areas are primarily involved in emotion. Modern efforts have focused on specific emotion systems, like the fear or defense system, rather than on the search for a general purpose emotion systems. Such studies have found that fear circuits are conserved in mammals, including humans. Animal work has been especially successful in determining how the brain detects and responds to danger. Caution should be exercised when attempting to discuss other aspects of emotion, namely subjective feelings, in animals since there are no scientific ways of verifying and measuring such states except in humans.
The nonhuman primate brain, the model system closest to the human brain, plays a critical role in our understanding of neural computation, cognition, and behavior. The continued quest to crack the neural codes in the monkey brain would be greatly enhanced with new tools and technologies that can rapidly and reversibly control the activities of desired cells at precise times during specific behavioral states. Recent advances in adapting optogenetic technologies to monkeys have enabled precise control of specific cells or brain regions at the millisecond timescale, allowing for the investigation of the causal role of these neural circuits in this model system. Validation of optogenetic technologies in monkeys also represents a critical preclinical step on the translational path of new generation cell-type-specific neural modulation therapies. Here, I discuss the current state of the application of optogenetics in the nonhuman primate model system, highlighting the available genetic, optical and electrical technologies, and their limitations and potentials.
monkey; genetic manipulation; optical; channelrhodopsin; archaerhodopsin; halorhodopsin; rat
The magnocellular neurons of the hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus (SON) are a major source of both systemic and central release of the neurohypophyseal peptides, oxytocin (OXT) and arginine–vasopressin (AVP). Both OXT and AVP are released from the somatodendritic compartment of magnocellular neurons and act within the SON to modulate the electrophysiological function of these cells. Cannabinoids (CBs) affect hormonal output and the SON may represent a neural substrate through which CBs exert specific physiological and behavioural effects. Dynamic modulation of synaptic inputs is a fundamental mechanism through which neuronal output is controlled. Dendritically released OXT acts on autoreceptors to generate endocannabinoids (eCBs) which modify both excitatory and inhibitory inputs to OXT neurons through actions on presynaptic CB receptors. As such, OXT and eCBs cooperate to shape the electrophysiological properties of magnocellular OXT neurons, regulating the physiological function of this nucleus. Further study of eCB signalling in the SON, including its interaction with AVP neurons, promises to extend our understanding of the synaptic regulation of SON physiological function.
PMID: 18655878 CAMSID: cams2631
hypothalamus; oxytocin; magnocellular neurons; retrograde messengers
The ability to silence, in a temporally precise fashion, the electrical activity of specific neurons embedded within intact brain tissue, is important for understanding the role that those neurons play in behaviors, brain disorders, and neural computations. “Optogenetic” silencers, genetically encoded molecules that, when expressed in targeted cells within neural networks, enable their electrical activity to be quieted in response to pulses of light, are enabling these kinds of causal circuit analyses studies. Two major classes of optogenetic silencer are in broad use in species ranging from worm to monkey: light-driven inward chloride pumps, or halorhodopsins, and light-driven outward proton pumps, such as archaerhodopsins and fungal light-driven proton pumps. Both classes of molecule, when expressed in neurons via viral or other transgenic means, enable the targeted neurons to be hyperpolarized by light. We here review the current status of these sets of molecules, and discuss how they are being discovered and engineered. We also discuss their expression properties, ionic properties, spectral characteristics, and kinetics. Such tools may not only find many uses in the quieting of electrical activity for basic science studies, but may also, in the future, find clinical uses for their ability to safely and transiently shut down cellular electrical activity in a precise fashion.
optogenetics; opsins; neural silencing; halorhodopsin; archaerhodopsin; channelrhodopsin; control; cell types; neural circuits; causality
Functional MRI (fMRI) studies performed during both waking rest and sleep show that the brain is continually active in distinct patterns that appear to reflect its underlying functional connectivity. In this review, potential sources that contribute to spontaneous fMRI activity will be discussed.