ResearchPad - behavioral-cognitive Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[The Neural Origin of Nociceptive-Induced Gamma-Band Oscillations]]> Gamma-band oscillations (GBOs) elicited by transient nociceptive stimuli are one of the most promising biomarkers of pain across species. Still, whether these GBOs reflect stimulus encoding in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) or nocifensive behavior in the primary motor cortex (M1) is debated. Here we recorded neural activity simultaneously from the brain surface as well as at different depths of the bilateral S1/M1 in freely-moving male rats receiving nociceptive stimulation. GBOs measured from superficial layers of S1 contralateral to the stimulated paw not only had the largest magnitude, but also showed the strongest temporal and phase coupling with epidural GBOs. Also, spiking of superficial S1 interneurons had the strongest phase coherence with epidural GBOs. These results provide the first direct demonstration that scalp GBOs, one of the most promising pain biomarkers, reflect neural activity strongly coupled with the fast spiking of interneurons in the superficial layers of the S1 contralateral to the stimulated side.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Nociceptive-induced gamma-band oscillations (GBOs) measured at population level are one of the most promising biomarkers of pain perception. Our results provide the direct demonstration that these GBOs reflect neural activity coupled with the spike firing of interneurons in the superficial layers of the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) contralateral to the side of nociceptive stimulation. These results address the ongoing debate about whether nociceptive-induced GBOs recorded with scalp EEG or epidurally reflect stimulus encoding in the S1 or nocifensive behavior in the primary motor cortex (M1), and will therefore influence how experiments in pain neuroscience will be designed and interpreted.

<![CDATA[Neurofeedback-Linked Suppression of Cortical β Bursts Speeds Up Movement Initiation in Healthy Motor Control: A Double-Blind Sham-Controlled Study]]> Abnormally increased β bursts in cortical-basal ganglia-thalamic circuits are associated with rigidity and bradykinesia in patients with Parkinson's disease. Increased β bursts detected in the motor cortex have also been associated with longer reaction times (RTs) in healthy participants. Here we further hypothesize that suppressing β bursts through neurofeedback training can improve motor performance in healthy subjects. We conducted a double-blind sham-controlled study on 20 human volunteers (10 females) using a sequential neurofeedback-behavior task with the neurofeedback reflecting the occurrence of β bursts over sensorimotor cortex quantified in real time. The results show that neurofeedback training helps healthy participants learn to volitionally suppress β bursts in the sensorimotor cortex, with training being accompanied by reduced RT in subsequent cued movements. These changes were only significant in the real feedback group but not in the sham group, confirming the effect of neurofeedback training over simple motor imagery. In addition, RTs correlated with the rate and accumulated duration of β bursts in the contralateral motor cortex before the go-cue, but not with averaged β power. The reduced RTs induced by neurofeedback training positively correlated with reduced β bursts across all tested hemispheres. These results strengthen the link between the occurrence of β bursts in the sensorimotor cortex before the go-cue and slowed movement initiation in healthy motor control. The results also highlight the potential benefit of neurofeedback training in facilitating voluntary suppression of β bursts to speed up movement initiation.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT This double-blind sham-controlled study suggested that neurofeedback training can facilitate volitional suppression of β bursts in sensorimotor cortex in healthy motor control better than sham feedback. The training was accompanied by reduced reaction time (RT) in subsequent cued movements, and the reduced RT positively correlated with the level of reduction in cortical β bursts before the go-cue, but not with average β power. These results provide further evidence of a causal link between sensorimotor β bursts and movement initiation and suggest that neurofeedback training could potentially be used to train participants to speed up movement initiation.

<![CDATA[One Thing Leads to Another: Anticipating Visual Object Identity Based on Associative-Memory Templates]]> Probabilistic associations between stimuli afford memory templates that guide perception through proactive anticipatory mechanisms. A great deal of work has examined the behavioral consequences and human electrophysiological substrates of anticipation following probabilistic memory cues that carry spatial or temporal information to guide perception. However, less is understood about the electrophysiological substrates linked to anticipating the sensory content of events based on recurring associations between successive events. Here, we demonstrate behavioral and electrophysiological signatures of using associative-memory templates to guide perception, while equating spatial and temporal anticipation (experiments 1 and 2), as well as target probability and response demands (experiment 2). By recording the electroencephalogram in the two experiments (N = 55; 24 females), we show that two markers in human electrophysiology implicated in spatial and temporal anticipation also contribute to the anticipation of perceptual identity, as follows: attenuation of alpha-band oscillations and the contingent negative variation (CNV). Together, our results show that memory-guided identity templates proactively impact perception and are associated with anticipatory states of attenuated alpha oscillations and the CNV. Furthermore, by isolating object–identity anticipation from spatial and temporal anticipation, our results suggest a role for alpha attenuation and the CNV in specific visual content anticipation beyond general changes in neural excitability or readiness.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Probabilistic associations between stimuli afford memory templates that guide perception through proactive anticipatory mechanisms. The current work isolates the behavioral benefits and electrophysiological signatures of memory-guided identity-based anticipation, while equating anticipation of space, time, motor responses, and task relevance. Our results show that anticipation of the specific identity of a forthcoming percept impacts performance and is associated with states of attenuated alpha oscillations and the contingent negative variation, extending previous work implicating these neural substrates in spatial and temporal preparatory attention. Together, this work bridges fields of attention, memory, and perception, providing new insights into the neural mechanisms that support complex attentional templates.

<![CDATA[Rhythmic Temporal Expectation Boosts Neural Activity by Increasing Neural Gain]]>

Temporal orienting improves sensory processing, akin to other top–down biases. However, it is unknown whether these improvements reflect increased neural gain to any stimuli presented at expected time points, or specific tuning to task-relevant stimulus aspects. Furthermore, while other top–down biases are selective, the extent of trade-offs across time is less well characterized.

<![CDATA[Individual Differences in Dopamine Are Associated with Reward Discounting in Clinical Groups But Not in Healthy Adults]]>

Some people are more willing to make immediate, risky, or costly reward-focused choices than others, which has been hypothesized to be associated with individual differences in dopamine (DA) function. In two studies using PET imaging, one empirical (Study 1: N = 144 males and females across 3 samples) and one meta-analytic (Study 2: N = 307 across 12 samples), we sought to characterize associations between individual differences in DA and time, probability, and physical effort discounting in human adults. Study 1 demonstrated that individual differences in DA D2-like receptors were not associated with time or probability discounting of monetary rewards in healthy humans, and associations with physical effort discounting were inconsistent across adults of different ages. Meta-analytic results for temporal discounting corroborated our empirical finding for minimal effect of DA measures on discounting in healthy individuals but suggested that associations between individual differences in DA and reward discounting depend on clinical features. Addictions were characterized by negative correlations between DA and discounting, but other clinical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, obesity, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, were characterized by positive correlations between DA and discounting. Together, the results suggest that trait differences in discounting in healthy adults do not appear to be strongly associated with individual differences in D2-like receptors. The difference in meta-analytic correlation effects between healthy controls and individuals with psychopathology suggests that individual difference findings related to DA and reward discounting in clinical samples may not be reliably generalized to healthy controls, and vice versa.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Decisions to forgo large rewards for smaller ones due to increasing time delays, uncertainty, or physical effort have been linked to differences in dopamine (DA) function, which is disrupted in some forms of psychopathology. It remains unclear whether alterations in DA function associated with psychopathology also extend to explaining associations between DA function and decision making in healthy individuals. We show that individual differences in DA D2 receptor availability are not consistently related to monetary discounting of time, probability, or physical effort in healthy individuals across a broad age range. By contrast, we suggest that psychopathology accounts for observed inconsistencies in the relationship between measures of DA function and reward discounting behavior.

<![CDATA[Dopamine D2/3 Binding Potential Modulates Neural Signatures of Working Memory in a Load-Dependent Fashion]]>

Dopamine (DA) modulates corticostriatal connections. Studies in which imaging of the DA system is integrated with functional imaging during cognitive performance have yielded mixed findings. Some work has shown a link between striatal DA (measured by PET) and fMRI activations, whereas others have failed to observe such a relationship. One possible reason for these discrepant findings is differences in task demands, such that a more demanding task with greater prefrontal activations may yield a stronger association with DA. Moreover, a potential DA–BOLD association may be modulated by task performance. We studied 155 (104 normal-performing and 51 low-performing) healthy older adults (43% females) who underwent fMRI scanning while performing a working memory (WM) n-back task along with DA D2/3 PET assessment using [11C]raclopride. Using multivariate partial-least-squares analysis, we observed a significant pattern revealing positive associations of striatal as well as extrastriatal DA D2/3 receptors to BOLD response in the thalamo–striatal–cortical circuit, which supports WM functioning. Critically, the DA–BOLD association in normal-performing, but not low-performing, individuals was expressed in a load-dependent fashion, with stronger associations during 3-back than 1-/2-back conditions. Moreover, normal-performing adults expressing upregulated BOLD in response to increasing task demands showed a stronger DA–BOLD association during 3-back, whereas low-performing individuals expressed a stronger association during 2-back conditions. This pattern suggests a nonlinear DA–BOLD performance association, with the strongest link at the maximum capacity level. Together, our results suggest that DA may have a stronger impact on functional brain responses during more demanding cognitive tasks.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Dopamine (DA) is a major neuromodulator in the CNS and plays a key role in several cognitive processes via modulating the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal. Some studies have shown a link between DA and BOLD, whereas others have failed to observe such a relationship. A possible reason for the discrepancy is differences in task demands, such that a more demanding task with greater prefrontal activations may yield a stronger association with DA. We examined the relationship of DA to BOLD response during working memory under three load conditions and found that the DA–BOLD association is expressed in a load-dependent fashion. These findings may help explain the disproportionate impairment evident in more effortful cognitive tasks in normal aging and in those suffering dopamine-dependent neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Parkinson's disease).

<![CDATA[Computing Value from Quality and Quantity in Human Decision-Making]]>

How organisms learn the value of single stimuli through experience is well described. In many decisions, however, value estimates are computed “on the fly” by combining multiple stimulus attributes. The neural basis of this computation is poorly understood. Here we explore a common scenario in which decision-makers must combine information about quality and quantity to determine the best option. Using fMRI, we examined the neural representation of quality, quantity, and their integration into an integrated subjective value signal in humans of both genders. We found that activity within inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) correlated with offer quality, while activity in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) specifically correlated with offer quantity. Several brain regions, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), were sensitive to an interaction of quality and quantity. However, the ACC was uniquely activated by quality, quantity, and their interaction, suggesting that this region provides a substrate for flexible computation of value from both quality and quantity. Furthermore, ACC signals across subjects correlated with the strength of quality and quantity signals in IFG and IPS, respectively. ACC tracking of subjective value also correlated with choice predictability. Finally, activity in the ACC was elevated for choice trials, suggesting that ACC provides a nexus for the computation of subjective value in multiattribute decision-making.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Would you prefer three apples or two oranges? Many choices we make each day require us to weigh up the quality and quantity of different outcomes. Using fMRI, we show that option quality is selectively represented in the inferior frontal gyrus, while option quantity correlates with areas of the intraparietal sulcus that have previously been associated with numerical processing. We show that information about the two is integrated into a value signal in the anterior cingulate cortex, and the fidelity of this integration predicts choice predictability. Our results demonstrate how on-the-fly value estimates are computed from multiple attributes in human value-based decision-making.

<![CDATA[Temporal Expectations Guide Dynamic Prioritization in Visual Working Memory through Attenuated α Oscillations]]>

Although working memory is generally considered a highly dynamic mnemonic store, popular laboratory tasks used to understand its psychological and neural mechanisms (such as change detection and continuous reproduction) often remain relatively “static,” involving the retention of a set number of items throughout a shared delay interval. In the current study, we investigated visual working memory in a more dynamic setting, and assessed the following: (1) whether internally guided temporal expectations can dynamically and reversibly prioritize individual mnemonic items at specific times at which they are deemed most relevant; and (2) the neural substrates that support such dynamic prioritization. Participants encoded two differently colored oriented bars into visual working memory to retrieve the orientation of one bar with a precision judgment when subsequently probed. To test for the flexible temporal control to access and retrieve remembered items, we manipulated the probability for each of the two bars to be probed over time, and recorded EEG in healthy human volunteers. Temporal expectations had a profound influence on working memory performance, leading to faster access times as well as more accurate orientation reproductions for items that were probed at expected times. Furthermore, this dynamic prioritization was associated with the temporally specific attenuation of contralateral α (8–14 Hz) oscillations that, moreover, predicted working memory access times on a trial-by-trial basis. We conclude that attentional prioritization in working memory can be dynamically steered by internally guided temporal expectations, and is supported by the attenuation of α oscillations in task-relevant sensory brain areas.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In dynamic, everyday-like, environments, flexible goal-directed behavior requires that mental representations that are kept in an active (working memory) store are dynamic, too. We investigated working memory in a more dynamic setting than is conventional, and demonstrate that expectations about when mnemonic items are most relevant can dynamically and reversibly prioritize these items in time. Moreover, we uncover a neural substrate of such dynamic prioritization in contralateral visual brain areas and show that this substrate predicts working memory retrieval times on a trial-by-trial basis. This places the experimental study of working memory, and its neuronal underpinnings, in a more dynamic and ecologically valid context, and provides new insights into the neural implementation of attentional prioritization within working memory.