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Every day, humans make countless decisions that require the integration of information about potential benefits (i.e. rewards) with other decision features (i.e. effort required, probability of an outcome or time delays). Here, we examine the overlap and dissociation of behavioral preferences and neural representations of subjective value in the context of three different decision features (physical effort, probability and time delays) in a healthy adult life span sample. While undergoing functional neuroimaging, participants (N = 75) made incentive compatible choices between a smaller monetary reward with lower physical effort, higher probability, or a shorter time delay versus a larger monetary reward with higher physical effort, lower probability, or a longer time delay. Behavioral preferences were estimated from observed choices, and subjective values were computed using individual hyperbolic discount functions. We found that discount rates were uncorrelated across tasks. Despite this apparent behavioral dissociation between preferences, we found overlapping subjective value-related activity in the medial prefrontal cortex across all three tasks. We found no consistent evidence for age differences in either preferences or the neural representations of subjective value across adulthood. These results suggest that while the tolerance of decision features is behaviorally dissociable, subjective value signals share a common representation across adulthood.
Visual object expertise correlates with neural selectivity in the fusiform face area (FFA). Although behavioral studies suggest that visual expertise is associated with increased use of holistic and configural information, little is known about the nature of the supporting neural representations. Using high-resolution 7-T functional magnetic resonance imaging, we recorded the multivoxel activation patterns elicited by whole cars, configurally disrupted cars, and car parts in individuals with a wide range of car expertise. A probabilistic support vector machine classifier was trained to differentiate activation patterns elicited by whole car images from activation patterns elicited by misconfigured car images. The classifier was then used to classify new combined activation patterns that were created by averaging activation patterns elicited by individually presented top and bottom car parts. In line with the idea that the configuration of parts is critical to expert visual perception, car expertise was negatively associated with the probability of a combined activation pattern being classified as a whole car in the right anterior FFA, a region critical to vision for categories of expertise. Thus, just as found for faces in normal observers, the neural representation of cars in right anterior FFA is more holistic for car experts than car novices, consistent with common mechanisms of neural selectivity for faces and other objects of expertise in this area.
BACKGROUND - Cognitive bias is a common characteristic of major depressive disorder (MDD) and is posited to remain during remission and contribute to recurrence risk. Attention bias may be related to enhanced amygdala activity or altered amygdala functional connectivity in depression. The current study examined attention bias, brain activity for emotional images, and functional connectivity in post-menopausal women with and without a history of major depression.
METHODS - Attention bias for emotionally valenced images was examined in 33 postmenopausal women with (n=12) and without (n=21) a history of major depression using an emotion dot probe task during fMRI. Group differences in amygdala activity and functional connectivity were assessed using fMRI and examined for correlations to attention performance.
RESULTS - Women with a history of MDD showed greater attentional bias for negative images and greater activity in brain areas including the amygdala for both positive and negative images (pcorr <0.001) than women without a history of MDD. In all participants, amygdala activity for negative images was correlated with attention facilitation for emotional images. Women with a history of MDD had significantly greater functional connectivity between the amygdala and hippocampal complex. In all participants amygdala-hippocampal connectivity was positively correlated with attention facilitation for negative images.
LIMITATIONS - Small sample with unbalanced groups.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings provide evidence for negative attentional bias in euthymic, remitted depressed individuals. Activity and functional connectivity in limbic and attention networks may provide a neurobiological basis for continued cognitive bias in remitted depression.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Childhood early life stress (ELS) increases risk of adulthood major depressive disorder (MDD) and is associated with altered brain structure and function. It is unclear whether specific ELSs affect depression risk, cognitive function and brain structure.
METHOD - This cross-sectional study included 64 antidepressant-free depressed and 65 never-depressed individuals. Both groups reported a range of ELSs on the Early Life Stress Questionnaire, completed neuropsychological testing and 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Neuropsychological testing assessed domains of episodic memory, working memory, processing speed and executive function. MRI measures included cortical thickness and regional gray matter volumes, with a priori focus on the cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), amygdala, caudate and hippocampus.
RESULTS - Of 19 ELSs, only emotional abuse, sexual abuse and severe family conflict independently predicted adulthood MDD diagnosis. The effect of total ELS score differed between groups. Greater ELS exposure was associated with slower processing speed and smaller OFC volumes in depressed subjects, but faster speed and larger volumes in non-depressed subjects. In contrast, exposure to ELSs predictive of depression had similar effects in both diagnostic groups. Individuals reporting predictive ELSs exhibited poorer processing speed and working memory performance, smaller volumes of the lateral OFC and caudate, and decreased cortical thickness in multiple areas including the insula bilaterally. Predictive ELS exposure was also associated with smaller left hippocampal volume in depressed subjects.
CONCLUSIONS - Findings suggest an association between childhood trauma exposure and adulthood cognitive function and brain structure. These relationships appear to differ between individuals who do and do not develop depression.
Several stimulus factors are important in multisensory integration, including the spatial and temporal relationships of the paired stimuli as well as their effectiveness. Changes in these factors have been shown to dramatically change the nature and magnitude of multisensory interactions. Typically, these factors are considered in isolation, although there is a growing appreciation for the fact that they are likely to be strongly interrelated. Here, we examined interactions between two of these factors - spatial location and effectiveness - in dictating performance in the localization of an audiovisual target. A psychophysical experiment was conducted in which participants reported the perceived location of visual flashes and auditory noise bursts presented alone and in combination. Stimuli were presented at four spatial locations relative to fixation (0°, 30°, 60°, 90°) and at two intensity levels (high, low). Multisensory combinations were always spatially coincident and of the matching intensity (high-high or low-low). In responding to visual stimuli alone, localization accuracy decreased and response times (RTs) increased as stimuli were presented at more eccentric locations. In responding to auditory stimuli, performance was poorest at the 30° and 60° locations. For both visual and auditory stimuli, accuracy was greater and RTs were faster for more intense stimuli. For responses to visual-auditory stimulus combinations, performance enhancements were found at locations in which the unisensory performance was lowest, results concordant with the concept of inverse effectiveness. RTs for these multisensory presentations frequently violated race-model predictions, implying integration of these inputs, and a significant location-by-intensity interaction was observed. Performance gains under multisensory conditions were larger as stimuli were positioned at more peripheral locations, and this increase was most pronounced for the low-intensity conditions. These results provide strong support that the effects of stimulus location and effectiveness on multisensory integration are interdependent, with both contributing to the overall effectiveness of the stimuli in driving the resultant multisensory response.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Schizotypy refers to a set of personality traits thought to reflect the subclinical expression of the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia. Here, we review the cognitive and brain functional profile associated with high questionnaire scores in schizotypy. We discuss empirical evidence from the domains of perception, attention, memory, imagery and representation, language, and motor control. Perceptual deficits occur early and across various modalities. While the neural mechanisms underlying visual impairments may be linked to magnocellular dysfunction, further effects may be seen downstream in higher cognitive functions. Cognitive deficits are observed in inhibitory control, selective and sustained attention, incidental learning, and memory. In concordance with the cognitive nature of many of the aberrations of schizotypy, higher levels of schizotypy are associated with enhanced vividness and better performance on tasks of mental rotation. Language deficits seem most pronounced in higher-level processes. Finally, higher levels of schizotypy are associated with reduced performance on oculomotor tasks, resembling the impairments seen in schizophrenia. Some of these deficits are accompanied by reduced brain activation, akin to the pattern of hypoactivations in schizophrenia spectrum individuals. We conclude that schizotypy is a construct with apparent phenomenological overlap with schizophrenia and stable interindividual differences that covary with performance on a wide range of perceptual, cognitive, and motor tasks known to be impaired in schizophrenia. The importance of these findings lies not only in providing a fine-grained neurocognitive characterization of a personality constellation known to be associated with real-life impairments, but also in generating hypotheses concerning the aetiology of schizophrenia.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BACKGROUND - Cognitive control impairments are linked to functional outcome in schizophrenia. The goal of the current study was to investigate precise abnormalities in two aspects of cognitive control: reactively changing a prepared response, and monitoring performance and adjusting behavior accordingly. We adapted an oculomotor task from neurophysiological studies of the cellular basis of cognitive control in nonhuman primates.
METHODS - 16 medicated outpatients with schizophrenia (SZ) and 18 demographically-matched healthy controls performed the modified double-step task. In this task, participants were required to make a saccade to a visual target. Infrequently, the target jumped to a new location and participants were instructed to rapidly inhibit and change their response. A race model provided an estimate of the time needed to cancel a planned movement. Response monitoring was assessed by measuring reaction time (RT) adjustments based on trial history.
RESULTS - SZ patients had normal visually-guided saccadic RTs but required more time to switch the response to the new target location. Additionally, the estimated latency of inhibition was longer in patients and related to employment. Finally, although both groups slowed down on trials that required inhibiting and changing a response, patients showed exaggerated performance-based adjustments in RTs, which was correlated with positive symptom severity.
CONCLUSIONS - SZ patients have impairments in rapidly inhibiting eye movements and show idiosyncratic response monitoring. These results are consistent with functional abnormalities in a network involving cortical oculomotor regions, the superior colliculus, and basal ganglia, as described in neurophysiological studies of non-human primates using an identical paradigm, and provide a translational bridge for understanding cognitive symptoms of SZ.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The interactive race model of saccadic countermanding assumes that response inhibition results from an interaction between a go unit, identified with gaze-shifting neurons, and a stop unit, identified with gaze-holding neurons, in which activation of the stop unit inhibits the growth of activation in the go unit to prevent it from reaching threshold. The interactive race model accounts for behavioral data and predicts physiological data in monkeys performing the stop-signal task. We propose an alternative model that assumes that response inhibition results from blocking the input to the go unit. We show that the blocked-input model accounts for behavioral data as accurately as the original interactive race model and predicts aspects of the physiological data more accurately. We extend the models to address the steady-state fixation period before the go stimulus is presented and find that the blocked-input model fits better than the interactive race model. We consider a model in which fixation activity is boosted when a stop signal occurs and find that it fits as well as the blocked input model but predicts very high steady-state fixation activity after the response is inhibited. We discuss the alternative linking propositions that connect computational models to neural mechanisms, the lessons to be learned from model mimicry, and generalization from countermanding saccades to countermanding other kinds of responses.
(c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
The objective of the present study was to compare two components of executive functioning, response monitoring and inhibition, in bipolar disorder (BP) and schizophrenia (SZ). The saccadic countermanding task is a translational paradigm optimized for detecting subtle abnormalities in response monitoring and response inhibition. We have previously reported countermanding performance abnormalities in SZ, but the degree to which these impairments are shared by other psychotic disorders is unknown. 18 BP, 17 SZ, and 16 demographically matched healthy controls (HC) participated in a saccadic countermanding task. Performance on the countermanding task is approximated as a race between movement generation and inhibition processes; this model provides an estimate of the time needed to cancel a planned movement. Response monitoring was assessed by the reaction time (RT) adjustments based on trial history. Like SZ patients, BP patients needed more time to cancel a planned movement. The two patient groups had equivalent inhibition efficiency. On trial history-based RT adjustments, however, we found a trend towards exaggerated trial history-based slowing in SZ compared to BP. Findings have implications for understanding the neurobiology of cognitive control, for defining the etiological overlap between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and for developing pharmacological treatments of cognitive impairments.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
OBJECTIVE - Older adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) experience poor cognitive and behavioral outcomes as MDD occurs in the context of other age-related brain changes. Patients with depression often have impairments on measures of frontal lobe functioning such as working memory. Understanding the effects of depression on cognitive functioning in older adults is important for the development of treatment strategies that focus on cognitive changes as well as mood.
METHODS - Eleven older adults with current MDD and 12 nondepressed comparison participants (all aged 60 years and older) performed the N-back test of working memory during fMRI.
RESULTS - Depressed older adults performed worse than nondepressed participants on the N-back task. Depressed older adults had decreased lateral frontal and parietal activation during the most difficult working memory load condition on the N-back compared with nondepressed older adults.
CONCLUSION - Cognitive dysfunction in geriatric depression may be related to reorganization of brain networks involved in working memory.
Copyright © 2015 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.