Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology

United Kingdom

Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology

United Kingdom
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GLASGOW, 13-Jun-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Researchers have found a direct window into the brain systems involved in making every day decisions based on preference. The study, led by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, and published today in Nature Communications, offers crucial insight into the neural mechanisms underlying our decision-making process, opening up new avenues for the investigation of preference-based choices in humans. Whether we decide to opt for a piece of apple or a piece of cake is, for example, a preference-based decision. How our brains arrive at such decisions – as well as choices that rely on our subjective valuation of different alternatives – is currently a popular research topic. Previously it was unclear where the brain implements preference-based choices and whether it uses a mechanism similar to when we make decisions purely based on the perceptual properties of the alternatives (like choosing the bigger of two items). Study lead Dr Philiastides said: “Our research suggests that preference-based and perceptual decisions might share a common underlying mechanism in the brain. Our findings also suggest that preference-based decisions might be represented in the same brain areas that plan the action to execute the decision, i.e. the hand reaching to grab the preferred item.” He added: “Our findings have important implications for a broad range of socioeconomic problems ranging from public policy analysis, like informing health behaviours, to brain-informed advertisement strategies and product design. “In addition, the work can improve our understanding of mental and neurodegenerative disorders known to compromise one’s decision-making faculties, like depression, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease by offering a direct window into the brain systems involved in goal-directed choices.” The study presented participants with pairs of snacks, like a chocolate bar and a pack of crisps, and asked them to choose their preferred item. To identify the brain areas involved in these decisions, the team used a state-of-the-art multimodal brain imaging procedure. Volunteers wore an EEG cap (to measure their brain electrical activity) whilst being simultaneously scanned in an MRI machine. An EEG cap records neural activity (tiny electrical signals on the surface of the scalp), providing information about “when” a certain event takes place in the brain and how it unfolds in time, while functional MRI provides information on “where” this activity happens in the brain. The EEG revealed that decision activity unfolds gradually over time and persists until one commits to a choice. This EEG activity was then localised with fMRI in the posterior medial frontal cortex of those who participated in the study, a brain region that has not been previously linked directly with preference-based decisions. Andrea Pisauro, the first author of the paper, said: “This is similar to when we make perceptual decisions, like choosing the larger of two slices of cake. The brain accumulates information supporting one of the decision alternatives until an internal criterion is reached and a decision is made.” The paper, ‘Neural correlates of evidence accumulation during value-based decisions revealed via simultaneous EEG-fMRI’ is published in Nature Communications. The work was funded by the BBSRC and ESRC.


Hinman J.D.,University of California at Los Angeles | Rost N.S.,Harvard University | Leung T.W.,Chinese University of Hong Kong | Montaner J.,Hospital Virgen Macarena Rocio | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry | Year: 2017

The era of precision medicine has arrived and conveys tremendous potential, particularly for stroke neurology. The diagnosis of stroke, its underlying aetiology, theranostic strategies, recurrence risk and path to recovery are populated by a series of highly individualised questions. Moreover, the phenotypic complexity of a clinical diagnosis of stroke makes a simple genetic risk assessment only partially informative on an individual basis. The guiding principles of precision medicine in stroke underscore the need to identify, value, organise and analyse the multitude of variables obtained from each individual to generate a precise approach to optimise cerebrovascular health. Existing data may be leveraged with novel technologies, informatics and practical clinical paradigms to apply these principles in stroke and realise the promise of precision medicine. Importantly, precision medicine in stroke will only be realised once efforts to collect, value and synthesise the wealth of data collected in clinical trials and routine care starts. Stroke theranostics, the ultimate vision of synchronising tailored therapeutic strategies based on specific diagnostic data, demand cerebrovascular expertise on big data approaches to clinically relevant paradigms. This review considers such challenges and delineates the principles on a roadmap for rational application of precision medicine to stroke and cerebrovascular health. © Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited.


Sauer A.,Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience | Zeev-Wolf M.,Gonda Brain Research Center | Grent-'t-Jong T.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Recasens M.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | And 7 more authors.
Human Brain Mapping | Year: 2017

Patients with schizophrenia (ScZ) show pronounced dysfunctions in auditory perception but the underlying mechanisms as well as the localization of the deficit remain unclear. To examine these questions, the current study examined whether alterations in the neuromagnetic mismatch negativity (MMNm) in ScZ-patients could involve an impairment in sensory predictions in local sensory and higher auditory areas. Using a whole-head MEG-approach, we investigated the MMNm as well as P300m and N100m amplitudes during a hierarchical auditory novelty paradigm in 16 medicated ScZ-patients and 16 controls. In addition, responses to omitted sounds were investigated, allowing for a critical test of the predictive coding hypothesis. Source-localization was performed to identify the generators of the MMNm, omission responses as well as the P300m. Clinical symptoms were examined with the positive and negative syndrome scale. Event-related fields (ERFs) to standard sounds were intact in ScZ-patients. However, the ScZ-group showed a reduction in the amplitude of the MMNm during both local (within trials) and global (across trials) conditions as well as an absent P300m at the global level. Importantly, responses to sound omissions were reduced in ScZ-patients which overlapped both in latency and generators with the MMNm sources. Thus, our data suggest that auditory dysfunctions in ScZ involve impaired predictive processes that involve deficits in both automatic and conscious detection of auditory regularities. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Millan M.J.,Institute Of Recherche Idr Servier | Andrieux A.,Grenoble Institute des Neurosciences | Bartzokis G.,University of California at Los Angeles | Cadenhead K.,University of California at San Diego | And 21 more authors.
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery | Year: 2016

Despite a lack of recent progress in the treatment of schizophrenia, our understanding of its genetic and environmental causes has considerably improved, and their relationship to aberrant patterns of neurodevelopment has become clearer. This raises the possibility that 'disease-modifying' strategies could alter the course to-and of-this debilitating disorder, rather than simply alleviating symptoms. A promising window for course-altering intervention is around the time of the first episode of psychosis, especially in young people at risk of transition to schizophrenia. Indeed, studies performed in both individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia and rodent models for schizophrenia suggest that pre-diagnostic pharmacotherapy and psychosocial or cognitive-behavioural interventions can delay or moderate the emergence of psychosis. Of particular interest are 'hybrid' strategies that both relieve presenting symptoms and reduce the risk of transition to schizophrenia or another psychiatric disorder. This Review aims to provide a broad-based consideration of the challenges and opportunities inherent in efforts to alter the course of schizophrenia. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Rossit S.,Anglia | Harvey M.,University of Glasgow | Butler S.H.,University of Strathclyde | Szymanek L.,University of Glasgow | And 3 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2016

An influential model of vision suggests the presence of two visual streams within the brain: a dorsal occipito-parietal stream which mediates action and a ventral occipito-temporal stream which mediates perception. One of the cornerstones of this model is DF, a patient with visual form agnosia following bilateral ventral stream lesions. Despite her inability to identify and distinguish visual stimuli, DF can still use visual information to control her hand actions towards these stimuli. These observations have been widely interpreted as demonstrating a double dissociation from optic ataxia, a condition observed after bilateral dorsal stream damage in which patients are unable to act towards objects that they can recognize. In Experiment 1, we investigated how patient DF performed on the classical diagnostic task for optic ataxia, reaching in central and peripheral vision. We replicated recent findings that DF is remarkably inaccurate when reaching to peripheral targets, but not when reaching in free vision. In addition we present new evidence that her peripheral reaching errors follow the optic ataxia pattern increasing with target eccentricity and being biased towards fixation. In Experiments 2 and 3, for the first time we examined DF's on-line control of reaching using a double-step paradigm in fixation-controlled and free-vision versions of the task. DF was impaired when performing fast on-line corrections on all conditions tested, similarly to optic ataxia patients. Our findings question the long-standing assumption that DF's dorsal visual stream is functionally intact and that her on-line visuomotor control is spared. In contrast, in addition to visual form agnosia, DF also has visuomotor symptoms of optic ataxia which are most likely explained by bilateral damage to the superior parietal-occipital cortex (SPOC). We thus conclude that patient DF can no longer be considered as an appropriate single-case model for testing the neural basis of perception and action dissociations. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.


Sternberg J.M.,University of Aberdeen | Forrest C.M.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Dalton R.N.,King's College London | Turner C.,King's College London | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Infectious Diseases | Year: 2017

Background. The kynurenine pathway of tryptophan oxidation is associated with central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory pathways. Inhibition of this pathway ameliorates CNS inflammation in rodent models of the late (meningoencephalitic) stage of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). In this study, we evaluate whether the kynurenine pathway is activated in clinical HAT and associated with CNS inflammatory responses. Methods. We measured cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tryptophan and kynurenine metabolite concentrations in patients infected with Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Results. Kynurenine concentration in CSF was increased in both the early and late stages of disease, with a progressive increase in tryptophan oxidation associated with stage progression. Kynurenine pathway activation was associated with increases in neuroinflammatory markers, but there was no clear relationship to neurological symptoms. Conclusions. CNS kynurenine pathway activation occurs during HAT, including cases prior to the current diagnostic cutoff for late-stage infection, providing evidence for early CNS involvement in HAT. Metabolite data demonstrate that the kynurenine-3-monooxygenase and kynurenine aminotransferase branches of the kynurenine pathway are active. The association between tryptophan oxidation and CNS inflammatory responses as measured by CSF interleukin 6 (IL-6) concentration supports a role of kynurenine metabolites in the inflammatory pathogenesis of late-stage HAT. © The Author 2016.


Cecere R.,University of Bologna | Cecere R.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Cecere R.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Bertini C.,University of Bologna | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Visual threat-related signals are not only processed via a cortical geniculo-striatal pathway to the amygdala but also via a subcortical colliculo-pulvinar-amygdala pathway, which presumably mediates implicit processing of fearful stimuli. Indeed, hemianopic patients with unilateral damage to the geniculo-striatal pathway have been shown to respond faster to seen happy faces in their intact visual field when unseen fearful faces were concurrently presented in their blind field [Bertini, C., Cecere, R., & Làdavas, E. I amblind, but I “see” fear. Cortex, 49, 985–993, 2013]. This behavioral facilitation in the presence of unseen fear might reflect enhanced processing of consciously perceived faces because of early activation of the subcortical pathway for implicit fear perception, which possibly leads to a modulation of cortical activity. To test this hypothesis, we examined ERPs elicited by fearful and happy faces presented to the intact visual field of right and left hemianopic patients, whereas fearful, happy, or neutral faces were concurrently presented in their blind field. Results showed that the amplitude of the N170 elicited by seen happy faces was selectively increased when an unseen fearful face was concurrently presented in the blind field of right hemianopic patients. These results suggest that when the geniculo-striate visual pathway is lesioned, the rapid and implicit processing of threat signals can enhance facial encoding. Notably, the N170 modulation was only observed in left-lesioned patients, favoring the hypothesis that implicit subcortical processing of fearful signals can influence face encoding only when the right hemisphere is intact. © 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Han C.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Hahn A.C.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Fisher C.I.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Debruine L.M.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Jones B.C.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2015

Objectives: Although many theories of human facial attractiveness propose positive correlations between facial attractiveness and measures of actual health, evidence for such correlations is somewhat mixed. Here we sought to replicate a recent study reporting that women's facial attractiveness is independently related to both their adiposity and cortisol. Methods: Ninety-six women provided saliva samples, which were analyzed for cortisol level, and their height and weight, which were used to calculate their body mass index (BMI). A digital face image of each woman was also taken under standardized photographic conditions and rated for attractiveness. Results: There was a significant negative correlation between women's facial attractiveness and BMI. By contrast, salivary cortisol and facial attractiveness were not significantly correlated. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the types of health information reflected in women's faces include qualities that are indexed by BMI but do not necessarily include qualities that are indexed by cortisol. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Walker M.P.,University of California at Berkeley | Robertson E.M.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Current Biology | Year: 2016

Recent work has shown that, during sleep, a functional circuit is created amidst a general breakdown in connectivity following fast-frequency bursts of brain activity. The findings question the unconscious nature of deep sleep, and provide an explanation for its contribution to memory processing. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.


PubMed | University of California at Berkeley and Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Type: Comment | Journal: Current biology : CB | Year: 2016

Recent work has shown that, during sleep, a functional circuit is created amidst a general breakdown inconnectivity following fast-frequency bursts of brain activity. The findings question the unconscious nature of deep sleep, and provide an explanation for its contribution to memory processing.

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