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Response inhibition is essential for navigating everyday life. Its derailment is considered integral to numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders, and more generally, to a wide range of behavioral and health problems. Response-inhibition efficiency furthermore correlates with treatment outcome in some of these conditions. The stop-signal task is an essential tool to determine how quickly response inhibition is implemented. Despite its apparent simplicity, there are many features (ranging from task design to data analysis) that vary across studies in ways that can easily compromise the validity of the obtained results. Our goal is to facilitate a more accurate use of the stop-signal task. To this end, we provide 12 easy-to-implement consensus recommendations and point out the problems that can arise when they are not followed. Furthermore, we provide user-friendly open-source resources intended to inform statistical-power considerations, facilitate the correct implementation of the task, and assist in proper data analysis.
© 2019, Verbruggen et al.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by dysfunction in frontal cortical and striatal networks that regulate action control. We investigated the pharmacological effect of dopamine agonist replacement therapy on frontal cortical activity and motor inhibition. Using Arterial Spin Labeling MRI, we examined 26 PD patients in the off- and on-dopamine agonist medication states to assess the effect of dopamine agonists on frontal cortical regional cerebral blood flow. Motor inhibition was measured by the Simon task in both medication states. We applied the dual process activation suppression model to dissociate fast response impulses from motor inhibition of incorrect responses. General linear regression model analyses determined the medication effect on regional cerebral blood flow and motor inhibition, and the relationship between regional cerebral blood flow and motor inhibitory proficiency. We show that dopamine agonist administration increases frontal cerebral blood flow, particularly in the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Higher regional blood flow in the pre-SMA, DLPFC and motor cortex was associated with better inhibitory control, suggesting that treatments which improve frontal cortical activity could ameliorate motor inhibition deficiency in PD patients.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The medial frontal cortex enables performance monitoring, indexed by the error-related negativity (ERN) and manifested by performance adaptations. We recorded electroencephalogram over and neural spiking across all layers of the supplementary eye field, an agranular cortical area, in monkeys performing a saccade-countermanding (stop signal) task. Neurons signaling error production, feedback predicting reward gain or loss, and delivery of fluid reward had different spike widths and were concentrated differently across layers. Neurons signaling error or loss of reward were more common in layers 2 and 3 (L2/3), whereas neurons signaling gain of reward were more common in layers 5 and 6 (L5/6). Variation of error- and reinforcement-related spike rates in L2/3 but not L5/6 predicted response time adaptation. Variation in error-related spike rate in L2/3 but not L5/6 predicted ERN magnitude. These findings reveal novel features of cortical microcircuitry supporting performance monitoring and confirm one cortical source of the ERN.
Despite considerable evidence showing thalamus anatomy and connectivity abnormalities in schizophrenia, how these abnormalities are reflected in thalamus function during cognition is relatively understudied. Modulation of thalamic connectivity with the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is required for higher-order cognitive processes, which are often impaired in schizophrenia. To address this gap, we investigated how thalamus function and thalamus-PFC connectivity under different levels of cognitive demand may be disrupted in schizophrenia. Participants underwent fMRI scanning while performing an event-related two-alternative forced choice task under Single and Dual task conditions. In the Single task condition, participants responded either to a visual cue with a well-learned motor response, or an audio cue with a well-learned vocal response. In the Dual task condition, participants performed both tasks. Thalamic connectivity with task relevant regions of the PFC for each condition was measured using beta-series correlation. Individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated less modulation of both mediodorsal thalamus activation and thalamus-PFC connectivity with increased cognitive demand. In contrast, their ability to modulate PFC function during task performance was maintained. These results suggest that the pathophysiology of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia is associated with thalamus-PFC circuitry and suggests that the thalamus, along with the PFC, should be a focus of investigation.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Balancing the speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT) is necessary for successful behavior. Using a visual search task with interleaved cues emphasizing speed or accuracy, we recently reported diverse contributions of frontal eye field (FEF) neurons instantiating salience evidence and response preparation. Here, we report replication of visual search SAT performance in two macaque monkeys, new information about variation of saccade dynamics with SAT, extension of the neurophysiological investigation to describe processes in the superior colliculus (SC), and a description of the origin of search errors in this task. Saccade vigor varied idiosyncratically across SAT conditions and monkeys but tended to decrease with response time. As observed in the FEF, speed-accuracy tradeoff was accomplished through several distinct adjustments in the superior colliculus. In "Accurate" relative to "Fast" trials, visually responsive neurons in SC as in FEF had lower baseline firing rates and later target selection. The magnitude of these adjustments in SC was indistinguishable from that in FEF. Search errors occurred when visual salience neurons in the FEF and the SC treated distractors as targets, even in the Accurate condition. Unlike FEF, the magnitude of visual responses in the SC did not vary across SAT conditions. Also unlike FEF, the activity of SC movement neurons when saccades were initiated was equivalent in Fast and Accurate trials. Saccade-related neural activity in SC, but not FEF, varied with saccade peak velocity. These results extend our understanding of the cortical and subcortical contributions to SAT. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Neurophysiological mechanisms of speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT) have only recently been investigated. This article reports the first replication of SAT performance in nonhuman primates, the first report of variation of saccade dynamics with SAT, the first description of superior colliculus contributions to SAT, and the first description of the origin of errors during SAT. These results inform and constrain new models of distributed decision making.
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.
OBJECTIVES - Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disproportionately affects Hispanics/Latinos in the United States, yet little is known about neurocognitive impairment (NCI) in this group. We compared the rates of NCI in large well-characterized samples of HIV-infected (HIV+) Latinos and (non-Latino) Whites, and examined HIV-associated NCI among subgroups of Latinos.
METHODS - Participants included English-speaking HIV+ adults assessed at six U.S. medical centers (194 Latinos, 600 Whites). For overall group, age: M=42.65 years, SD=8.93; 86% male; education: M=13.17, SD=2.73; 54% had acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. NCI was assessed with a comprehensive test battery with normative corrections for age, education and gender. Covariates examined included HIV-disease characteristics, comorbidities, and genetic ancestry.
RESULTS - Compared with Whites, Latinos had higher rates of global NCI (42% vs. 54%), and domain NCI in executive function, learning, recall, working memory, and processing speed. Latinos also fared worse than Whites on current and historical HIV-disease characteristics, and nadir CD4 partially mediated ethnic differences in NCI. Yet, Latinos continued to have more global NCI [odds ratio (OR)=1.59; 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.13-2.23; p<.01] after adjusting for significant covariates. Higher rates of global NCI were observed with Puerto Rican (n=60; 71%) versus Mexican (n=79, 44%) origin/descent; this disparity persisted in models adjusting for significant covariates (OR=2.40; CI=1.11-5.29; p=.03).
CONCLUSIONS - HIV+ Latinos, especially of Puerto Rican (vs. Mexican) origin/descent had increased rates of NCI compared with Whites. Differences in rates of NCI were not completely explained by worse HIV-disease characteristics, neurocognitive comorbidities, or genetic ancestry. Future studies should explore culturally relevant psychosocial, biomedical, and genetic factors that might explain these disparities and inform the development of targeted interventions. (JINS, 2018, 24, 163-175).
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.