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Pletzer B.,University of Salzburg | Pletzer B.,Center for Neurocognitive Research | Kronbichler M.,University of Salzburg | Kronbichler M.,Center for Neurocognitive Research | And 5 more authors.
Brain Research | Year: 2014

The aim of the present study was to identify, whether and how oral hormonal contraceptives (OCs) alter women's number processing. Behavioral performance and brain activation patterns (BOLD-response) of 14 OC-users were evaluated during two distinct numerical tasks (number comparison, number bisection) and compared to 16 men (high testosterone), and 16 naturally cycling women, once during their follicular (low hormone levels) and once during their luteal cycle phase (high progesterone). For both tasks, reliable sex differences and menstrual cycle dependent modulation have previously been described. If progestogenic effects of the synthetic progestins contained in OC play a predominant role, OC-users should be comparable to luteal women. If androgenic effects of the synthetic steroids exert the progestogenic actions, OC-users should be comparable to men. Likewise, if neither of the above are the case, the reduction of endogenous steroids by OCs should make OC-users comparable to follicular women. Our findings suggest that OC-users resemble follicular women in their behavioral performance, but show male-like brain activation patterns during both tasks. Analysis of brain-behavior relationships suggests that OC-users differ from naturally cycling women in the way they recruit their neural resources to deal with challenges of the tasks. We conclude that OCs, which are used by 100 million women worldwide, may have profound effects on cognition that have not been recognized so far. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Demertzi A.,University of Liege | Antonopoulos G.,University of Liege | Heine L.,University of Liege | Voss H.U.,Biomedical Imaging Center | And 18 more authors.
Brain | Year: 2015

Despite advances in resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging investigations, clinicians remain with the challenge of how to implement this paradigm on an individualized basis. Here, we assessed the clinical relevance of resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging acquisitions in patients with disorders of consciousness by means of a systems-level approach. Three clinical centres collected data from 73 patients in minimally conscious state, vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome and coma. The main analysis was performed on the data set coming from one centre (Liège) including 51 patients (26 minimally conscious state, 19 vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, six coma; 15 females; mean age 49 ± 18 years, range 11-87; 16 traumatic, 32 non-traumatic of which 13 anoxic, three mixed; 35 patients assessed >1 month post-insult) for whom the clinical diagnosis with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised was congruent with positron emission tomography scanning. Group-level functional connectivity was investigated for the default mode, frontoparietal, salience, auditory, sensorimotor and visual networks using a multiple-seed correlation approach. Between-group inferential statistics and machine learning were used to identify each network's capacity to discriminate between patients in minimally conscious state and vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome. Data collected from 22 patients scanned in two other centres (Salzburg: 10 minimally conscious state, five vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome; New York: five minimally conscious state, one vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, one emerged from minimally conscious state) were used to validate the classification with the selected features. Coma Recovery Scale-Revised total scores correlated with key regions of each network reflecting their involvement in consciousness-related processes. All networks had a high discriminative capacity (>80%) for separating patients in a minimally conscious state and vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome. Among them, the auditory network was ranked the most highly. The regions of the auditory network which were more functionally connected in patients in minimally conscious state compared to vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome encompassed bilateral auditory and visual cortices. Connectivity values in these three regions discriminated congruently 20 of 22 independently assessed patients. Our findings point to the significance of preserved abilities for multisensory integration and top-down processing in minimal consciousness seemingly supported by auditory-visual crossmodal connectivity, and promote the clinical utility of the resting paradigm for single-patient diagnostics. © 2015 The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Pletzer B.,University of Salzburg | Pletzer B.,Center for Neurocognitive Research | Kronbichler M.,University of Salzburg | Kronbichler M.,Center for Neurocognitive Research | And 6 more authors.
Brain Research | Year: 2011

Numerical processing involves either number magnitude processing, which has been related to spatial abilities and relies on superior parietal regions, or arithmetic fact retrieval, which has been related to verbal abilities and involves the inferior parietal lobule. Since men score better in spatial and women in verbal tasks, we assume that women have advantages in fact retrieval, while men have benefits in number magnitude processing. According to findings on menstrual cycle variations in spatial and verbal abilities, fact retrieval should improve during the luteal phase and magnitude processing during the follicular phase. To dissociate sex- and menstrual cycle-dependent effects on fact retrieval and number magnitude processing, we applied a number bisection task in 15 men and 15 naturally cycling women. Multiplicative items (e.g. 12-15-18) are part of a multiplication series and can be solved by fact retrieval, while non-multiplicative items (e.g. 11-14-17) are not part of a multiplication series and require number magnitude processing. In men and women in their luteal phase, error rates were higher and deactivation of the medial prefrontal cortex and the bilateral inferior parietal lobules was stronger for non-multiplicative compared to multiplicative items (positive multiplicativity effect), while in the follicular phase women showed higher error rates and stronger deactivation in multiplicative compared to non-multiplicative items (negative multiplicativity effect). Thus, number magnitude processing improves, while arithmetic fact retrieval impairs during the follicular phase. While a female superiority in arithmetic fact retrieval could not be confirmed, we observed that sex differences are significantly modulated by menstrual cycle phase. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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