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Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Roeland Hancock, Kenneth R Pugh, Fumiko Hoeft
Developmental dyslexia (decoding-based reading disorder; RD) is a complex trait with multifactorial origins at the genetic, neural, and cognitive levels. There is evidence that low-level sensory-processing deficits precede and underlie phonological problems, which are one of the best-documented aspects of RD. RD is also associated with impairments in integrating visual symbols with their corresponding speech sounds. Although causal relationships between sensory processing, print-speech integration, and fluent reading, and their neural bases are debated, these processes all require precise timing mechanisms across distributed brain networks...
April 8, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Arseny A Sokolov, R Chris Miall, Richard B Ivry
Over the past 30 years, cumulative evidence has indicated that cerebellar function extends beyond sensorimotor control. This view has emerged from studies of neuroanatomy, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, and brain stimulation, with the results implicating the cerebellum in domains as diverse as attention, language, executive function, and social cognition. Although the literature provides sophisticated models of how the cerebellum helps refine movements, it remains unclear how the core mechanisms of these models can be applied when considering a broader conceptualization of cerebellar function...
April 3, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Amir Amedi, Shir Hofstetter, Shachar Maidenbaum, Benedetta Heimler
How do the anatomically consistent functional selectivities of the brain emerge? A new study by Bola and colleagues reveals task selectivity in auditory rhythm-selective areas in congenitally deaf adults perceiving visual rhythm sequences. Here, we contextualize this result with accumulating evidence from animal and human studies supporting sensory-independent task specializations as a comprehensive principle shaping brain (re)organization.
April 3, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Xue Sun, Serge Luquet, Dana M Small
Recent work highlights the importance of genetic variants that influence brain structure and function in conferring risk for polygenic obesity. The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) has a pivotal role in energy balance by integrating metabolic signals with circuits supporting cognitive, perceptual, and appetitive functions that guide feeding. It has also been established that diet and obesity alter DA signaling, leading to compulsive-like feeding and neurocognitive impairments. This raises the possibility that genetic variants that influence DA signaling and adaptation confer risk for overeating and cognitive decline...
March 31, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Frank G Hillary, Jordan H Grafman
A common finding in human functional brain-imaging studies is that damage to neural systems paradoxically results in enhanced functional connectivity between network regions, a phenomenon commonly referred to as 'hyperconnectivity'. Here, we describe the various ways that hyperconnectivity operates to benefit a neural network following injury while simultaneously negotiating the trade-off between metabolic cost and communication efficiency. Hyperconnectivity may be optimally expressed by increasing connections through the most central and metabolically efficient regions (i...
March 31, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Luiz Pessoa
Emotion is often understood in terms of a circumscribed set of cortical and subcortical brain regions. I propose, instead, that emotion should be understood in terms of large-scale network interactions spanning the entire neuroaxis. I describe multiple anatomical and functional principles of brain organization that lead to the concept of 'functionally integrated systems', cortical-subcortical systems that anchor the organization of emotion in the brain. The proposal is illustrated by describing the cortex-amygdala integrated system and how it intersects with systems involving the ventral striatum/accumbens, septum, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and brainstem...
March 28, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Edwin M Robertson, Adam Takacs
Exercise can improve human cognition. A mechanistic connection between exercise and cognition has been revealed in several recent studies. Exercise increases cortical excitability and this in turn leads to enhanced memory consolidation. Together these studies dovetail with our growing understanding of memory consolidation and how it is regulated through changes in motor cortical excitability.
March 28, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Caroline E Spence, Magda Osman, Alan G McElligott
Are animals capable of empathy, problem-solving, or even self-recognition? Much research is dedicated to answering these questions and yet few studies have considered how humans form beliefs about animal minds. Evidence suggests that our mentalising of animals is a natural consequence of Theory of Mind (ToM) capabilities. However, where beliefs regarding animal mind have been investigated, there has been slow progress in establishing the mechanism underpinning how this is achieved. Here, we consider what conclusions can be drawn regarding how people theorise about animal minds and the different conceptual and methodological issues that might limit the accuracy of conclusions currently drawn from this work...
March 27, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Floris P de Lange, Matthias Fritsche
How do we decide what we perceive? Obviously, we base our decisions on sensory evidence. However, a new and surprising study by Hagura et al. shows that our perceptual decisions are also biased by the action costs that are associated with our decisions.
March 23, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Joseph E LeDoux
When subjective state words are used to describe behaviors, or brain circuits that control them nonconsciously, the behaviors and circuits take on properties of the subjective state. Research on fear illustrates the problems that can result. Subjective state words should be limited to the description of inner experiences, and avoided when referring to circuits underlying nonsubjectively controlled behaviors.
March 15, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Katharine N Thakkar, Vaibhav A Diwadkar, Martin Rolfs
Psychosis - an impaired contact with reality - is a hallmark of schizophrenia. Many psychotic symptoms are associated with disruptions in agency - the sense that 'I' cause my actions. A failure to predict sensory consequences of one's own actions may underlie agency disturbances. Such predictions rely on corollary discharge (CD) signals, 'copies' of movement commands sent to sensory regions prior to action execution. Here, we make a case that the oculomotor system is a promising model for understanding CD in psychosis, building on advances in our understanding of the behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of CD associated with eye movements...
March 11, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Rose M Scott, Renée Baillargeon
Intense controversy surrounds the question of when children first understand that others can hold false beliefs. Results from traditional tasks suggest that false-belief understanding does not emerge until about 4 years of age and constitutes a major developmental milestone in social cognition. By contrast, results from nontraditional tasks, which have steadily accumulated over the past 10 years, suggest that false-belief understanding is already present in infants (under age 2 years) and toddlers (age 2-3 years) and thus forms an integral part of social cognition from early in life...
March 1, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Michael C Corballis
From ancient times, religion and philosophy have regarded language as a faculty bestowed uniquely and suddenly on our own species, primarily as a mode of thought with communication as a byproduct. This view persists among some scientists and linguists and is counter to the theory of evolution, which implies that the evolution of complex structures is incremental. I argue here that language derives from mental processes with gradual evolutionary trajectories, including the generative capacities to travel mentally in time and space and into the minds of others...
February 14, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Sébastien Tremblay, K M Sharika, Michael L Platt
The capacity and motivation to be social is a key component of the human adaptive behavioral repertoire. Recent research has identified social behaviors remarkably similar to our own in other animals, including empathy, consolation, cooperation, and strategic deception. Moreover, neurobiological studies in humans, nonhuman primates, and rodents have identified shared brain structures (the so-called 'social brain') apparently specialized to mediate such functions. Neuromodulators may regulate social interactions by 'tuning' the social brain, with important implications for treating social impairments...
February 14, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Tamar R Makin, Sliman J Bensmaia
Textbooks teach us that the removal of sensory input to sensory cortex, for example, following arm amputation, results in massive reorganisation in the adult brain. In this opinion article, we critically examine evidence for functional reorganisation of sensory cortical representations, focusing on the sequelae of arm amputation on somatosensory topographies. Based on literature from human and non-human primates, we conclude that the cortical representation of the limb remains remarkably stable despite the loss of its main peripheral input...
February 14, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Matthew A J Apps, Jérôme Sallet
The ACC, and neighbouring areas, are among the most controversial and investigated brain areas in cognitive neuroscience. Despite the wealth of studies, there has been a significant absence of studies recording from the gyrus of the ACC (ACCg). In their recent study Hill and colleagues provide a rare examination of the properties of the ACCg. We highlight the emerging role of this region in signalling the key computations that drive social learning processes.
February 4, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Eveline A Crone, Nikolaus Steinbeis
Since the discovery that patients with damage to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) show similar deficits in cognitive control as young children, the PFC model of cognitive control development has been a popular description of how cognitive control emerges over time. In this review, we show that not only do many studies support this model, but also that more specific models of PFC development can be formulated, according to the functional roles of subregions and by taking into account the distinctions within ventral-dorsal and lateral-medial PFC...
January 31, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Juha Silvanto
According to conventional views, holding information in working memory (WM) involves elevated and persistent neuronal firing. This has been challenged by models in which WM maintenance is implemented by activity-silent synaptic mechanisms. A new study suggests that both have a role, consistent with cognitive models positing several states of WM. However, do these states reflect the operation of attention or awareness?
January 31, 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Ellen Leibenluft
Irritability, defined as an increased propensity to exhibit increased anger relative to one's peers, is a common clinical problem in youth. Irritability can be conceptualized as aberrant responses to frustration (where frustration is the emotional response to blocked goal attainment) and/or aberrant 'approach' responses to threat. Irritable youth show hyper-reactivity to threat mediated by dysfunction in amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), insula, striatum, and association cortex...
April 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Danielle S Bassett, Marcelo G Mattar
Humans adapt their behavior to their external environment in a process often facilitated by learning. Efforts to describe learning empirically can be complemented by quantitative theories that map changes in neurophysiology to changes in behavior. In this review we highlight recent advances in network science that offer a sets of tools and a general perspective that may be particularly useful in understanding types of learning that are supported by distributed neural circuits. We describe recent applications of these tools to neuroimaging data that provide unique insights into adaptive neural processes, the attainment of knowledge, and the acquisition of new skills, forming a network neuroscience of human learning...
April 2017: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
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