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Somatosensory Modulation during Speech Planning

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Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor

Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor command and creating a prediction that is used to cancel out the resulting sensory feedback. Currently, there are no published accounts of the perception of tactile signals for motor tasks and contexts related to the lips during both speech planning and production. In this study, we measured the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech planning using light electrical stimulation below the lower lip by comparing perception during mixed speaking and silent reading conditions. Participants were asked to judge whether a constant near-threshold electrical stimulation (subject-specific intensity, 85% detected at rest) was present during different time points relative to an initial visual cue. In the speaking condition, participants overtly produced target words shown on a computer monitor. In the reading condition, participants read the same target words silently to themselves without any movement or sound. We found that detection of the stimulus was attenuated during speaking conditions while remaining at a constant level close to the perceptual threshold throughout the silent reading condition. Perceptual modulation was most intense during speech production and showed some attenuation just prior to speech production during the planning period of speech. This demonstrates that there is a significant decrease in the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech production as well as milliseconds before speech is even produced which has implications for speech disorders such as stuttering and schizophrenia with pronounced deficits in the somatosensory system.

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2019-05

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Dynamic Changes in Heart Rate and Cerebral Blood Flow During Acute Vagal Nerve Stimulation

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Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic technique in treating many neurological diseases, including epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and migraine headache. The mechanisms by which VNS acts, however, are not fully understood but may

Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic technique in treating many neurological diseases, including epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and migraine headache. The mechanisms by which VNS acts, however, are not fully understood but may involve changes in cerebral blood flow. The vagus nerve plays a significant role in the regulation of heart rate and cerebral blood flow that are altered during VNS. Here, we examined the effects of acute vagal nerve stimulation on both heart rate and cerebral blood flow. Laser Speckle Contrast Analysis (LASCA) was used to analyze the cerebral blood flow of male Long\u2014Evans rats. Results showed two distinct patterns of responses whereby animals either experienced a mild or severe decrease in heart rate during VNS. Further, animals that displayed mild heart rate decreases showed an increase in cerebral blood flow that persisted beyond VNS. Animals that displayed severe decreases showed a transient decrease in cerebral blood flow followed by an increase that was greater than that observed in mild animals but progressively decreased after VNS. The results suggest two distinct patterns of changes in both heart rate and cerebral blood flow that may be related to the intensity of VNS.

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2018-05

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Analysis of Brain Activity in Elite Golfers

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It is unknown which regions of the brain are most or least active for golfers during a peak performance state (Flow State or "The Zone") on the putting green. To address this issue, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were taken on 10

It is unknown which regions of the brain are most or least active for golfers during a peak performance state (Flow State or "The Zone") on the putting green. To address this issue, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were taken on 10 elite golfers while they performed a putting drill consisting of hitting nine putts spaced uniformly around a hole each five feet away. Data was collected at three time periods, before, during and after the putt. Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) measurements were also recorded on each subject. Three of the subjects performed a visualization of the same putting drill and their brain waves and GSR were recorded and then compared with their actual performance of the drill. EEG data in the Theta (4 \u2014 7 Hz) bandwidth and Alpha (7 \u2014 13 Hz) bandwidth in 11 different locations across the head were analyzed. Relative power spectrum was used to quantify the data. From the results, it was found that there is a higher magnitude of power in both the theta and alpha bandwidths for a missed putt in comparison to a made putt (p<0.05). It was also found that there is a higher average power in the right hemisphere for made putts. There was not a higher power in the occipital region of the brain nor was there a lower power level in the frontal cortical region during made putts. The hypothesis that there would be a difference between the means of the power level in performance compared to visualization techniques was also supported.

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2016-05

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Overcoming bias: Neural Correlates of Judgment Bias and Framing Effects in Cognition of Music

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Prior expectations can bias evaluative judgments of sensory information. We show that information about a performer's status can bias the evaluation of musical stimuli, reflected by differential activity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Moreover, we demonstrate that decreased susceptibility

Prior expectations can bias evaluative judgments of sensory information. We show that information about a performer's status can bias the evaluation of musical stimuli, reflected by differential activity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Moreover, we demonstrate that decreased susceptibility to this confirmation bias is (a) accompanied by the recruitment of and (b) correlated with the white-matter structure of the executive control network, particularly related to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). By using long-duration musical stimuli, we were able to track the initial biasing, subsequent perception, and ultimate evaluation of the stimuli, examining the full evolution of these biases over time. Our findings confirm the persistence of confirmation bias effects even when ample opportunity exists to gather information about true stimulus quality, and underline the importance of executive control in reducing bias.

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2018-05

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The Role of Retention and Forgetting in Context Dependent Sensorimotor Memory of Dexterous Manipulation

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The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to

The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to lift the same object in the opposite context relative to that experience on the last block. On each context switch, an interference of the previous block of trials was found resulting in manipulation errors (object tilt). However, no significant re-learning was found two weeks later for the first block of trials (p = 0.826), indicating that the previously observed interference among contexts lasted a very short time. Interestingly, upon switching to the other context, sensorimotor memories again interfered with visually-based planning. This means that the memory of lifting in the first context somehow blocked the memory of lifting in the second context. In addition, the performance in the first trial two weeks later and the previous trial of the same context were not significantly different (p = 0.159). This means that subjects are able to retain long-term sensorimotor memories. Lastly, the last four trials in which subjects switched contexts were not significantly different from each other (p = 0.334). This means that the interference from sensorimotor memories of lifting in opposite contexts was weaker, thus eventually leading to the attainment of steady performance.

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Date Created
2013-05

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Utilizing Structural MRI Data to Improve Epilepsy Surgery Planning

Description

In epilepsy, malformations that cause seizures often require surgery. The purpose of this research is to join forces with the Multi-Center Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) project at University College London (UCL) in order to improve the process of detecting lesions

In epilepsy, malformations that cause seizures often require surgery. The purpose of this research is to join forces with the Multi-Center Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) project at University College London (UCL) in order to improve the process of detecting lesions in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. This, in turn, will improve surgical outcomes via more structured surgical planning. It is a global effort, with more than 20 sites across 5 continents. The targeted populations for this study include patients whose epilepsy stems from Focal Cortical Dysplasia. Focal Cortical Dysplasia is an abnormality of cortical development, and causes most of the drug-resistant epilepsy. Currently, the creators of MELD have developed a set of protocols which wrap various
commands designed to streamline post-processing of MRI images. Using this partnership, the Applied Neuroscience and Technology Lab at PCH has been able to complete production of a post-processing pipeline which integrates locally sourced smoothing techniques to help identify lesions in patients with evidence of Focal Cortical Dysplasia. The end result is a system in which a patient with epilepsy may experience more successful post-surgical results due to the
combination of a lesion detection mechanism and the radiologist using their trained eye in the presurgical stages. As one of the main points of this work is the global aspect of it, Barrett thesis funding was dedicated for a trip to London in order to network with other MELD project collaborators. This was a successful trip for the project as a whole in addition to this particular thesis. The ability to troubleshoot problems with one another in a room full of subject matter
experts allowed for a high level of discussion and learning. Future work includes implementing machine learning approaches which consider all morphometry parameters simultaneously.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

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Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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2016-12