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Examining the Effects of Exercise Level on Cognition, Perception, and Emotional Response Modulation

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Physical activity is something that everyone engages in at varying levels. It has been linked to positively impacting general wellbeing, as well as preparing the mind and body to learn new skills. However, the significance of physical activity

Physical activity is something that everyone engages in at varying levels. It has been linked to positively impacting general wellbeing, as well as preparing the mind and body to learn new skills. However, the significance of physical activity remains under-explored in some areas. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between physical activity levels and emotional intelligence, navigation and planning skills, motor skills, memory capacity, and one’s perception of the ‘value’ of an object or an experience. During sessions, participants were equipped with two physiological sensors: the EEG B-Alert X10 or X24 headset, and the Shimmer GSR3. In addition to these, two external sensors were used: a web camera for recording and evaluating facial expressions, and the Tobii X2-30, X2-60, or Tobii T60XL eye tracking systems, used to monitor visual attention. These sensors were used to collect data while participants completed a series of tasks: the Self-Report of Emotional Intelligence Test, the Tower of London Test, the Motor Speed Test, the Working Memory Capacity Battery, watching product-centered videos, and watching experience-centered videos. Multiple surveys were also conducted, including a demographic survey, a nutritional and health survey, and a sports preference survey. Utilizing these metrics, this study found that those who exercise more experience and express higher levels of emotion, including joy, sadness, contempt, disgust, confusion, frustration, surprise, anger, and fear. This implies a difference in emotional response modulation between those who exercise more and those who exercise less, which in turn implies a difference in perception between the two groups. There were no significant findings related to navigation and planning skills, motor skills, or memory capacity from this analysis.

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2019-05

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On Memory and Physiological Signals of Experts and Novices-Case Study: Chess

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Abstract Chess has been a common research topic for expert-novice studies and thus for learning science as a whole because of its limited framework and longevity as a game. One factor is that chess studies are good at measuring how

Abstract Chess has been a common research topic for expert-novice studies and thus for learning science as a whole because of its limited framework and longevity as a game. One factor is that chess studies are good at measuring how expert chess players use their memory and skills to approach a new chessboard con�guration. Studies have shown that chess skill is based on memory, speci�cally, "chunks" of chess piece positions that have been previously encountered by players. However, debate exists concerning how these chunks are constructed in players' memory. These chunks could be constructed by proximity of pieces on the chessboard as well as their precise location or constructed through attack-defense relations. The primary objective of this study is to support which one is more in line with chess players' actual chess abilities based off their memory, proximity or attack/defense. This study replicates and extends an experiment conducted by McGregor and Howe (2002), which explored the argument that pieces are primed more by attack and defense relations than by proximity. Like their study, the present study examined novice and expert chess players' response times for correct and error responses by showing slides of game configurations. In addition to these metrics, the present study also incorporated an eye-tracker to measure visual attention and EEG to measure affective and cognitive states. They were added to allow the comparison of subtle and unconscious behaviors of both novices and expert chess players. Overall, most McGregor and Howe's (2002) results were replicated supporting their theory on chess expertise. This included statistically significance for skill in the error rates with the mean error rates on the piece recognition tests were 70.1% for novices and 87.9% for experts, as well as significance for the two-way interaction for relatedness and proximity with error rates of 22.4% for unrelated/far, 18.8% for related/far, 15.8% for unrelated
ear, and 29.3% for related
ear. Unfortunately, there were no statistically significance for any of the response time effects, which McGregor and Howe found for the interaction between skill and proximity. Despite eye-tracking and EEG data not either support nor confirm McGregor and Howe's theory on how chess players memorize chessboard configurations, these metrics did help build a secondary theory on how novices typically rely on proximity to approach chess and new visual problems in general. This was exemplified by the statistically significant results for short-term excitement for the two-way interaction of skill and proximity, where the largest short-term excitement score was between novices on near proximity slides. This may indicate that novices, because they may lean toward using proximity to try to recall these pieces, experience a short burst of excitement when the pieces are close to each other because they are more likely to recall these configurations.

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Date Created
2017-05

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The Importance of Studying Interactions With Ovarian Hormones: Implications for Depressive Symptoms in Premenopausal and Menopausal Women

Description

The relevance of depression in the clinical realm is well known, as it is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Clinical depression is the leading cause of disease for women worldwide. The sex difference in

The relevance of depression in the clinical realm is well known, as it is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Clinical depression is the leading cause of disease for women worldwide. The sex difference in depression and anxiety has guided the research of not just recent studies but older studies as well, supporting the theory that gonadal hormones are associated with the mechanisms of emotional cognition. The scientific literature points towards a clear correlative relationship between gonadal hormones, especially estrogens, and emotion regulation. This thesis investigates the neural pathways that have been indicated to regulate mood and anxiety. Currently, the research points to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which regulates the stress response through its ultimate secretion of cortisol through the adrenal cortex, and its modulated response when exposed to higher levels of estrogen. Another mechanism that has been investigated is the interaction of estrogen and the serotonergic system, which is noteworthy because the serotonergic system is known for its importance in mood regulation. However, it is important to note that the research seeking to determine the neurobiological underpinnings of estrogen and the serotonergic system is not expansive. Future research should focus on determining the direct relationship between cortisol hypersecretion and estrogens, the specific neurobiological effects of serotonergic receptor subtypes on the antidepressant actions of estrogens, and the simultaneous effects of the stress and serotonergic systems on depressive symptoms.

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Date Created
2021-05

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Relationships Between the Inflammatory Responses of the Immune System and Periods of Critical Hormonal Shifts in Females Across the Lifespan: A Pregnancy Review

Description

In females, critical hormonal shifts occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and <br/>menopause. The fluctuating ovarian hormone levels across a woman’s lifespan likely contribute <br/>to inflammatory responses driven by the immune system, which is regulated by a variety of <br/>physiological pathways

In females, critical hormonal shifts occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and <br/>menopause. The fluctuating ovarian hormone levels across a woman’s lifespan likely contribute <br/>to inflammatory responses driven by the immune system, which is regulated by a variety of <br/>physiological pathways and microbiological cues. Pregnancy in particular results in drastic <br/>changes in circulating hormone profiles, and involves a variety of physiological changes, <br/>including inflammatory responses of the immune system. There is evidence that these effects are <br/>mediated, in part, by the significant hormone fluctuations that characterize pregnancy and <br/>postpartum periods. This thesis highlights and synthesizes important physiological changes <br/>associated with pregnancy, and their potential implications on cognitive and brain aging in <br/>women. A tertiary model of cognition is presented depicting interactions between hormonal <br/>history, reproductive history, and immune functions. This research is important to create a better <br/>understanding of women’s health and enhance medical care for women throughout pregnancy <br/>and across reproductive hormone shifts across the lifespan.

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Date Created
2021-05

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Cognitive changes across the menopause transition: a longitudinal evaluation of the impact of age and ovarian status on spatial memory

Description

Aging and the menopause transition are both intricately linked to cognitive changes

during mid-life and beyond. Clinical literature suggests the age at menopause onset can differentially impact cognitive status later in life. Yet, little is known about the relationship between behavioral

Aging and the menopause transition are both intricately linked to cognitive changes

during mid-life and beyond. Clinical literature suggests the age at menopause onset can differentially impact cognitive status later in life. Yet, little is known about the relationship between behavioral and brain changes that occur during the transitional stage into the post-menopausal state. Much of the pre-clinical work evaluating an animal model of menopause involves ovariectomy in rodents; however, ovariectomy results in an abrupt loss of circulating hormones and ovarian tissue, limiting the ability to evaluate gradual follicular depletion. The 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD) model simulates transitional menopause in rodents by selectively depleting the immature ovarian follicle reserve and allowing animals to retain their follicle-deplete ovarian tissue, resulting in a profile similar to the majority of menopausal women. Here, Vehicle or VCD treatment was administered to ovary-intact adult and middle-aged Fischer-344 rats to assess the cognitive effects of transitional menopause via VCD-induced follicular depletion over time, as well as to understand potential interactions with age, with VCD treatment beginning at either six or twelve months of age. Results indicated that subjects that experience menopause onset at a younger age had impaired spatial working memory early in the transition to a follicle-deplete state. Moreover, in the mid- and post- menopause time points, VCD-induced follicular depletion amplified an age effect, whereby Middle-Aged VCD-treated animals had poorer spatial working and reference memory performance than Young VCD-treated animals. Correlations suggested that in middle age, animals with higher circulating estrogen levels tended to perform better on spatial memory tasks. Overall, these findings suggest that the age at menopause onset is a critical parameter to consider when evaluating learning and memory across the transition to reproductive senescence. From a translational perspective, this study informs the field with respect to how the age at menopause onset might impact cognition in menopausal women, as well as provides insight into time points to explore for the window of opportunity for hormone therapy during the menopause transition to attenuate age- and menopause- related cognitive decline, and produce healthy brain aging profiles in women who retain their ovaries throughout the lifespan.

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Date Created
2015

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Progestogens impact cognition during the transition to menopause in the rat: dissociation of progestogen- and memory- type

Description

Progestogens, such as progesterone (P4), medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), and micronized progesterone (mP4), are given to ovary-intact women during the transition to menopause to attenuate heavy uterine bleeding and other symptoms. Both progesterone and MPA administration have been shown to impair

Progestogens, such as progesterone (P4), medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), and micronized progesterone (mP4), are given to ovary-intact women during the transition to menopause to attenuate heavy uterine bleeding and other symptoms. Both progesterone and MPA administration have been shown to impair cognition in ovariectomized (Ovx) rats compared to vehicle-treated controls. mP4, however, has yet to be investigated for cognitive effects in a preclinical setting. Further, progestogens affect the GABA (-aminobutyric acid) ergic system, specifically glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) the rate limiting enzyme necessary for synthesizing GABA. The goal of this experiment was to investigate the cognitive impact of P4, MPA, and mP4, in an ovary-intact transitional menopause model using 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD) and assess whether these potential changes were related to the GABAergic system. One group of rats received vehicle injections, and the remainder of the groups received VCD to induce follicular depletion, modeling transitional menopause in women. Vehicle or hormone administration began during perimenopause to model the time period when women often take progestogens alone. Rats then underwent testing to assess spatial working and reference memory in the water radial-arm maze (WRAM) and spatial reference memory in the Morris water maze (MWM). Results indicate that P4 and MPA improved learning for working memory measure, but only MPA impaired memory retention in the WRAM. For the WRAM reference memory measure, VCD only treated rats showed impaired learning and memory retention compared to vehicle controls; progestogens did not impact this impairment. Although GAD expression did not differ between treatment groups, in general, there was a relationship between GAD expression and WRAM performance such that rats that tended to have higher GAD levels also tended to make more WRAM working memory errors. Thus, while P4 and MPA have been previously shown to impair cognition in an Ovx model, giving these hormones early in an ovary-intact perimenopause model elicits divergent effects, such that these progestogens can improve cognition. Additionally, these findings suggest that the cognitive changes seen herein are related to the interaction between progestogens and the GABAergic system. Further investigation into progestogens is warranted to fully understand their impact on cognition given the importance of utilizing progestogens in the clinic.

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Date Created
2019