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Cognitive Neuroscience

Pin-Hao Andy Chen, Robert S Chavez, Todd F Heatherton
Failure to maintain a healthy body weight may reflect a long-term imbalance between the executive control and reward systems of the brain. The current study examined whether the anatomical connectivity between these two systems predicted individual variability in achieving a healthy body weight, particularly in chronic dieters. Thirty-six female chronic dieters completed a food-cue reactivity task in the scanner. Two regions-of-interest (ROIs) were defined from the reactivity task: the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), which engages cognitive control and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which represents reward value...
October 11, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Alexandra M Gaynor, Elizabeth F Chua
Previous research has implicated the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in successful associative encoding and subjective awareness of one's memory performance. We tested the causal role of the PFC in these processes by applying transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) during a verbal associative encoding and judgment-of-learning (JOL) task. tDCS over the PFC impaired associative encoding compared to sham and parietal tDCS, as shown by fewer hits on a subsequent associative recognition test. There were no effects of tDCS on the magnitude or accuracy of JOLs...
August 1, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Shenbing Kuang
Voelker et al. (this issue) discuss the idea of linking white matter (WM) plasticity to improved reaction time (RT) during training. While compelling, this argument has important confounds and should be taken with cautions. RT is constrained not only by the speed of signal transmission in WM, but also by the properties of synaptic and neural processing in cortical gray matter. It is still unclear to what extent RT variability could be explained by WM plasticity and cortical plasticity. Future studies should examine both WM plasticity and cortical plasticity in relation to RT changes, to fully understand the brain mechanisms underlying RT improvement during training...
July 29, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
J Michael Williams
For many tasks, an increase in competence is associated with faster response time. Voelker et al (this issue) explore the possible role of white matter reorganization as a mechanism underlying this relationship. With such a strong focus on this possible interpretation and the limits of current neuroimaging methods, the authors constrained their options to the point of only considering simplified models of how training might result in faster responses.
July 27, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Danielle Farrar, Andrew E Budson
While the relationship between diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measurements and training effects is explored by Voelker et al. (this issue), a cursory discussion of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measurements categorizes increased activation with findings of greater white matter integrity. Evidence of the relationship between fMRI activation and white matter integrity is conflicting, as is the relationship between fMRI activation and training effects. An examination of the changes in fMRI activation in response to training is helpful, but the relationship between DTI and fMRI activation, particularly in the context of white matter changes, must be examined further before general conclusions can be drawn...
July 26, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Daniela Aisenberg, Zahira Ziva Cohen, Omer Linkovski
Voelker et al. (this issue) discuss how training improves task speed. They suggest two constraints when exploring how training changes cognition through transfer: (1) a link between improved connectivity and response speed and (2) the transfer task should use pathways altered by training. Looking at the literature on aging, we believe the latter constraint should be reconsidered. We discuss evidence from developmental aging, questioning whether the transfer task necessarily requires using training task pathways...
July 22, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Olga Kepinska, Niels O Schiller
In response to Voelker et al. (this issue), we argue for a wide array of neural oscillatory mechanisms underlying learning and practice. While the authors propose frontal theta power as the basis for learning-induced neuroplasticity, we believe that the temporal dynamics of other frequency bands, together with their synchronization properties can offer a fuller account of the neurophysiological changes occurring in the brain during cognitive tasks.
July 22, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Helena Bujalka, Ben Emery
Voelker and colleagues propose that we may illuminate learning-associated phenomena such as generalization by considering white matter plasticity. Consistent with this idea, human neuroimaging studies reveal learning-induced changes in adult white matter. Animal studies reveal that some forms of learning induce, and are dependent on, generation of new oligodendrocytes. Nevertheless, it remains unclear which alterations to myelin structure are most relevant to learning, and humans and rodents may profoundly differ in their capacity for oligodendrogenesis in adulthood...
July 22, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Constantinos I Siettos, Nikolaos Smyrnis
Many studies focus on anatomical brain connectivity in an effort to explain the effect of practice on reaction time (RT) that is observed in many cognitive tasks. In this commentary, we suggest that RT reflects a stochastic process that varies in each single repetition of any cognitive task and cannot be attributed only to anatomical properties of the underlying neuronal circuit. Based on recent evidence from Magnetoencephalographic, Electroencephalographic, and fMRI studies, we further propose that the functional properties of key brain areas and their self-organization into functional connectivity networks contribute to the RT and could also explain the effects of training on the distribution of the RT...
July 18, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Chiara Della Libera, Riccardo Calletti, Jana Eštočinová, Leonardo Chelazzi, Elisa Santandrea
Recent evidence indicates that the attentional priority of objects and locations is altered by the controlled delivery of reward, reflecting reward-based attentional learning. Here we take an approach hinging on inter-subject variability to probe the neurobiological bases of these effects, in particular of reward-driven plasticity of spatial priority maps. Specifically, we ask whether the susceptibility of an individual to the reward-based treatment can be accounted for by specific predictors, notably personality traits that are linked to reward processing, along with more general personality traits, but also by gender...
July 15, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Dipanjan Roy, V S Chandrasekhar Pammi
Here, we argue systematically about the promises and pitfalls of relating Human Connectome to cognitive enhancement. We also highlight three key areas where further resolution is required before the generalization of the white-matter-related cause of cognitive enhancement across a variety of cognitive modalities is made. These key areas are: (a) inherent limitations in estimating of diffusion-weighted anisotropy index near volumes with high abundance of crossing fibers; (b) species differences in cell types and only a putative link between brain rhythms and modulation of activity in precursor cells in rodents;...
July 15, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Heleen A Slagter, Marlies E Vissers, Lotte J Talsma, K Richard Ridderinkhof
Voelker et al. (2016) discuss the intriguing possibility that faster response times after training result from changes in white matter pathways, and propose that frontal theta activity is important for inducing these changes. We argue that, depending on the specific cognitive processes and brain networks targeted by training, oscillatory activity in other frequency bands could produce similar changes in white matter. Such changes can have a profound effect on brain function and performance if they optimize the timing of information transmission through neural networks...
July 14, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Pascale Voelker, Denise Piscopo, Aldis P Weible, Gary Lynch, Mary K Rothbart, Michael I Posner, Cristopher Niell
We appreciate the many comments we received on our discussion paper, and believe that they reflect a recognition of the importance of this topic worldwide. We point out in this reply that there appears to be a confusion between the role of oscillations in creating white matter and other functions of oscillations in communicating between neural areas during task performance or at rest. We also discuss some mechanisms other than the enhancement of white matter that must influence reaction time. We recognize the limited understanding we have of transfer, and outline some future directions designed to improve our understanding of transfer...
July 11, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Terri L Scott, Jeanne Gallée, Evelina Fedorenko
A set of brain regions in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes supports high-level linguistic processing. These regions can be reliably identified in individual subjects using fMRI, by contrasting neural responses to meaningful and structured language stimuli vs. stimuli matched for low-level properties but lacking meaning and/or structure. We here present a novel version of a language 'localizer,' which should be suitable for diverse populations including children and/or clinical populations who may have difficulty with reading or cognitively demanding tasks...
July 7, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Malia L Anderson, Jesse R James, C Brock Kirwan
Long-term declarative memory depends on pattern separation and pattern completion to maintain memory specificity. Previous studies aimed at evaluating the underlying neuronal substrates of these computational processes have used a mnemonic discrimination paradigm and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). An alternative method is electroencephalography and event-related potentials (ERPs), which have a superior time resolution to fMRI. Here, we use ERP analysis to examine neuronal activity during performance of a mnemonic discrimination task...
June 29, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Joseph B Hopfinger
Voelker et al. discuss the potentially critical role of white matter changes underlying the effects of training. In regard to the specific types of neural activities and processes related to these changes, the authors focus on theta rhythms and the speed of manual response times. However, white matter changes likely affect brain oscillatory activity at multiple frequencies, and recent findings suggest structural connections may be even more important for higher frequency functional connectivity. Furthermore, activity in the gamma frequency range has been implicated in basic mechanisms of attention, and changes in these core processes could underlie improvements across multiple tasks...
June 28, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Joseph B Hopfinger, Jonathan Parsons, Flavio Fröhlich
Previous electrophysiological studies implicate both alpha (8-12 Hz) and gamma (>30 Hz) neural oscillations in the mechanisms of selective attention. Here, participants preformed two separate visual attention tasks, one endogenous and one exogenous, while transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), at 10 Hz, 40 Hz, or sham, was applied to the right parietal lobe. Our results provide new evidence for the roles of gamma and alpha oscillations in voluntary versus involuntary shifts of attention...
June 14, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Sandra Virtue, Laura Motyka Joss
Recent findings suggest that textual constraint and reading goals influence inference generation. However, it is unclear how constraint and reading goals interact during predictive inference generation in the hemispheres. In the current divided visual field study, participants were given a study goal or not given a reading goal prior to reading text that was either strongly or weakly constrained toward a predictive inference. Participants then made lexical decisions to inference-related target words presented to either the left visual field-right hemisphere (LVF-RH) or the right visual field-left hemisphere (RVF-LH)...
June 13, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Yury Shtyrov, Maria Lenzen
Fast real-time processing of external information by the brain is vital to survival in a highly dynamic environment. A ubiquitous information medium used by humans is spoken language, but the neural dynamics of its comprehension is still poorly understood. Here, we scrutinized the earliest electrophysiological activity elicited in the human brain by spoken words and matched meaningless word-like stimuli using a lexical auditory oddball paradigm, an established technique for investigating cortical activation patterns underlying early automatic stages of language processing...
May 6, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
Pascale Voelker, Denise Piscopo, Aldis P Weible, Gary Lynch, Mary K Rothbart, Michael I Posner, Cristopher M Niell
Why does training on a task reduce the reaction time for performing it? New research points to changes in white matter pathways as one likely mechanism. These pathways connect remote brain areas involved in performing the task. Genetic variations may be involved in individual differences in the extent of this improvement. If white matter change is involved in improved reaction time with training, it may point the way toward understanding where and how generalization occurs. We examine the hypothesis that brain pathways shared by different tasks may result in improved performance of cognitive tasks remote from the training...
April 28, 2016: Cognitive Neuroscience
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