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PubMed | University Hospital of Tuebingen, University of Bamberg, University of Tuebingen Tuebingen, Tecnalia and University of Venice
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience | Year: 2014

(1) compared with amateurs and young elite, expert table tennis players are characterized by enhanced cortical activation in the motor and fronto-parietal cortex during motor imagery in response to table tennis videos; (2) in elite athletes, world rank points are associated with stronger cortical activation. To this aim, electroencephalographic data were recorded in 14 expert, 15 amateur and 15 young elite right-handed table tennis players. All subjects watched videos of a serve and imagined themselves responding with a specific table tennis stroke. With reference to a baseline period, power decrease/increase of the sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) during the pretask- and task period indexed the cortical activation/deactivation (event-related desynchronization/synchronization, ERD/ERS). Regarding hypothesis (1), 8-10 Hz SMR ERD was stronger in elite athletes than in amateurs with an intermediate ERD in young elite athletes in the motor cortex. Regarding hypothesis (2), there was no correlation between ERD/ERS in the motor cortex and world rank points in elite experts, but a weaker ERD in the fronto-parietal cortex was associated with higher world rank points. These results suggest that motor skill in table tennis is associated with focused excitability of the motor cortex during reaction, movement planning and execution with high attentional demands. Among elite experts, less activation of the fronto-parietal attention network may be necessary to become a world champion.

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen and Hitachi Ltd.
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in human neuroscience | Year: 2014

Previous studies have suggested complex interactions of mood and cognition in the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). Although such interactions might be influenced by various factors such as personality and cultural background, their reproducibility and generalizability have hardly been explored. In the present study, we focused on a previously found correlation between negative mood states and PFC activity during a verbal working memory (WM) task, which had been demonstrated by using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in a Japanese sample. To confirm and extend the generalizability of this finding, we conducted a similar experiment in a German sample, i.e., participants with a different language background. Here, PFC activity during verbal and spatial WM tasks was measured by NIRS using a delayed match-to-sample paradigm after the participants natural mood states had been evaluated by a mood questionnaire (Profiles of Mood States: POMS). We also included control tasks to consider the general effect of visual/auditory inputs and motor responses. For the verbal WM task, the POMS total mood disturbance (TMD) score was negatively correlated with baseline-corrected NIRS data mainly over the left dorsolateral PFC (i.e., higher TMD scores were associated with reduced activation), which is consistent with previous studies. Moreover, this relationship was also present when verbal WM activation was contrasted with the control task. These results suggest that the mood-cognition interaction within the PFC is reproducible in a sample with a different language background and represents a general phenomenon.

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen and University of TuebingenTuebingen
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in human neuroscience | Year: 2016

Neurofeedback is a promising tool for treatment and rehabilitation of several patient groups. In this proof of principle study, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) based neurofeedback of frontal cortical areas was investigated in healthy adults. Main aims were the assessment of learning, the effects on performance in a working memory (n-back) task and the impact of applied strategies on regulation. 13 healthy participants underwent eight sessions of NIRS based neurofeedback within 2 weeks to learn to voluntarily up-regulate hemodynamic activity in prefrontal areas. An n-back task in pre-/post measurements was used to monitor neurocognitive changes. Mean oxygenated hemoglobin (O

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen, University Graduate Center and RWTH Aachen
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in psychology | Year: 2015

Superior early numerical competencies of children in several Asian countries have (amongst others) been attributed to the higher transparency of their number word systems. Here, we directly investigated this claim by evaluating whether Japanese childrens transcoding performance when writing numbers to dictation (e.g., twenty five 25) was less error prone than that of German-speaking children - both in general as well as when considering language-specific attributes of the German number word system such as the inversion property, in particular. In line with this hypothesis we observed that German-speaking children committed more transcoding errors in general than their Japanese peers. Moreover, their error pattern reflected the specific inversion intransparency of the German number-word system. Inversion errors in transcoding represented the most prominent error category in German-speaking children, but were almost absent in Japanese-speaking children. We conclude that the less transparent German number-word system complicates the acquisition of the correspondence between symbolic Arabic numbers and their respective verbal number words.

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen and University Graduate Center
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in systems neuroscience | Year: 2015

Microsaccades are small saccades. Neurophysiologically, microsaccades are generated using similar brainstem mechanisms as larger saccades. This suggests that peri-saccadic changes in vision that accompany large saccades might also be expected to accompany microsaccades. In this review, we highlight recent evidence demonstrating this. Microsaccades are not only associated with suppressed visual sensitivity and perception, as in the phenomenon of saccadic suppression, but they are also associated with distorted spatial representations, as in the phenomenon of saccadic compression, and pre-movement response gain enhancement, as in the phenomenon of pre-saccadic attention. Surprisingly, the impacts of peri-microsaccadic changes in vision are far reaching, both in time relative to movement onset as well as spatial extent relative to movement size. Periods of ~100 ms before and ~100 ms after microsaccades exhibit significant changes in neuronal activity and behavior, and this happens at eccentricities much larger than the eccentricities targeted by the microsaccades themselves. Because microsaccades occur during experiments enforcing fixation, these effects create a need to consider the impacts of microsaccades when interpreting a variety of experiments on vision, perception, and cognition using awake, behaving subjects. The clearest example of this idea to date has been on the links between microsaccades and covert visual attention. Recent results have demonstrated that peri-microsaccadic changes in vision play a significant role in both neuronal and behavioral signatures of covert visual attention, so much so that in at least some attentional cueing paradigms, there is very tight synchrony between microsaccades and the emergence of attentional effects. Just like large saccades, microsaccades are genuine motor outputs, and their impacts can be substantial even during perceptual and cognitive experiments not concerned with overt motor generation per se.

PubMed | University Hospital of Tuebingen and University of Tuebingen Tuebingen
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in human neuroscience | Year: 2015

Fetal behavioral states are defined by fetal movement and heart rate variability (HRV). At 32 weeks of gestational age (GA) the distinction of four fetal behavioral states represented by combinations of quiet or active sleep or awakeness is possible. Prior to 32 weeks, only periods of fetal activity and quiesence can be distinguished. The increasing synchronization of fetal movement and HRV reflects the development of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) control. Fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG) detects fetal heart activity at high temporal resolution, enabling the calculation of HRV parameters. This study combined the criteria of fetal movement with the HRV analysis to complete the criteria for fetal state detection. HRV parameters were calculated including the standard deviation of the normal-to-normal R-R interval (SDNN), the mean square of successive differences of the R-R intervals (RMSSD, SDNN/RMSSD ratio, and permutation entropy (PE) to gain information about the developing influence of the ANS within each fetal state. In this study, 55 magnetocardiograms from healthy fetuses of 24-41 weeks GA were recorded for up to 45 min using a fetal biomagnetometer. Fetal states were classified based on HRV and movement detection. HRV parameters were calculated for each state. Before GA 32 weeks, 58.4% quiescence and 41.6% activity cycles were observed. Later, 24% quiet sleep state (1F), 65.4% active sleep state (2F), and 10.6% active awake state (4F) were observed. SDNN increased over gestation. Changes of HRV parameters between the fetal behavioral states, especially between 1F and 4F, were statistically significant. Increasing fetal activity was confirmed by a decrease in PE complexity measures. The fHRV parameters support the differentiation between states and indicate the development of autonomous nervous control of heart rate function.

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in plant science | Year: 2012

Gene and genome duplications provide a playground for various selective pressures and contribute significantly to genome complexity. It is assumed that the genomes of all major eukaryotic lineages possess duplicated regions that result from gene and genome duplication. There is evidence that the model plant Arabidopsis has been subjected to at least three whole-genome duplication events over the last 150-200 million years. As a result, many cellular processes are governed by redundantly acting gene families. Plants pass through two distinct life phases with a haploid gametophytic alternating with a diploid sporophytic generation. This ontogenetic difference in gene copy number has important implications for the outcome of deleterious mutations, which are masked by the second gene copy in diploid systems but expressed in a dominant fashion in haploid organisms. As a consequence, maintaining the activity of duplicated genes might be particularly advantageous during the haploid gametophytic generation. Here, we describe the distinctive features associated with the alteration of generations and discuss how activity profiles of duplicated genes might get modulated in a life phase dependent fashion.

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in human neuroscience | Year: 2014

Popular definitions of neurofeedback point out that neurofeedback is a process of operant conditioning which leads to self-regulation of brain activity. Self-regulation of brain activity is considered to be a skill. The aim of this paper is to clarify that not only operant conditioning plays a role in the acquisition of this skill. In order to design the learning process additional references have to be derived from classical conditioning, two-process-theory and in particular from skill learning and research into motivational aspects. The impact of learning by trial and error, cueing of behavior, feedback, reinforcement, and knowledge of results as well as transfer of self-regulation skills into everyday life will be analyzed in this paper. In addition to these learning theory basics this paper tries to summarize the knowledge about acquisition of self-regulation from neurofeedback studies with a main emphasis on clinical populations. As a conclusion it is hypothesized that learning to self-regulate has to be offered in a psychotherapeutic, i.e., behavior therapy framework.

PubMed | University of Tuebingen Tuebingen
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in microbiology | Year: 2015

We set out to provide a resource to the microbiology community especially with respect to systems biology based endeavors. To this end, we generated a comprehensive dataset monitoring the changes in protein expression, copy number, and post translational modifications in a systematic fashion during growth and ethanol stress in E. coli. We utilized high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) combined with the Super-SILAC approach. In a single experiment, we have identified over 2300 proteins, which represent approximately 88% of the estimated expressed proteome of E. coli and estimated protein copy numbers using the Intensity Based Absolute Quantitation (iBAQ). The dynamic range of protein expression spanned up to six orders of magnitude, with the highest protein copy per cell estimated at approximately 300,000. We focused on the proteome dynamics involved during stationary phase growth. A global up-regulation of proteins related to stress response was detected in later stages of growth. We observed the down-regulation of the methyl directed mismatch repair system containing MutS and MutL of E. coli growing in long term growth cultures, confirming that higher incidence of mutations presents an important mechanism in the increase in genetic diversity and stationary phase survival in E. coli. During ethanol stress, known markers such as alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase were induced, further validating the dataset. Finally, we performed unbiased protein modification detection and revealed changes of many known and unknown protein modifications in both experimental conditions. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD001648.

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