ERPLAB toolbox is a freely available, open-source toolbox for processing and analyzing event-related potential (ERP) data in the MATLAB environment. ERPLAB is closely integrated with EEG LAB, a popular open-source toolbox that provides many EEG preprocessing steps and an excellent user interface design. ERPLAB adds to EEGLAB's EEG processing functions, providing additional tools for filtering, artifact detection, re-referencing, and sorting of events, among others. ERPLAB also provides robust tools for averaging EEG segments together to create averaged ERPs, for creating difference waves and other recombinations of ERP waveforms through algebraic expressions, for filtering and rereferencing the averaged ERPs, for plotting ERP waveforms and scalp maps, and for quantifying several types of amplitudes and latencies. ERPLAB's tools can be accessed either from an easy-to-learn graphical user interface or from MATLAB scripts, and a command history function makes it easy for users with no programming experience to write scripts. Consequently, ERPLAB provides both ease of use and virtually unlimited power and flexibility, making it appropriate for the analysis of both simple and complex ERP experiments. Several forms of documentation are available, including a detailed user's guide, a step-by-step tutorial, a scripting guide, and a set of video-based demonstrations.
In order to understand the working brain as a network, it is essential to identify the mechanisms by which information is gated between regions. We here propose that information is gated by inhibiting task-irrelevant regions, thus routing information to task-relevant regions. The functional inhibition is reflected in oscillatory activity in the alpha band (8-13 Hz). From a physiological perspective the alpha activity provides pulsed inhibition reducing the processing capabilities of a given area. Active processing in the engaged areas is reflected by neuronal synchronization in the gamma band (30-100 Hz) accompanied by an alpha band decrease. According to this framework the brain could be studied as a network by investigating cross-frequency interactions between gamma and alpha activity. Specifically the framework predicts that optimal task performance will correlate with alpha activity in task-irrelevant areas. In this review we will discuss the empirical support for this framework. Given that alpha activity is by far the strongest signal recorded by EEG and MEG, we propose that a major part of the electrophysiological activity detected from the working brain reflects gating by inhibition.
Mindfulness-as a state, trait, process, type of meditation, and intervention has proven to be beneficial across a diverse group of psychological disorders as well as for general stress reduction. Yet, there remains a lack of clarity in the operationalization of this construct, and underlying mechanisms. Here, we provide an integrative theoretical framework and systems-based neurobiological model that explains the mechanisms by which mindfulness reduces biases related to self-processing and creates a sustainable healthy mind. Mindfulness is described through systematic mental training that develops meta-awareness (self-awareness), an ability to effectively modulate one's behavior (self-regulation), and a positive relationship between self and other that transcends self-focused needs and increases prosocial characteristics (self-transcendence). This framework of self-awareness, -regulation, and -transcendence (S-ART) ilustrates a method for becoming aware of the conditions that cause (and remove) distortions or biases. The development of S-ART through meditation is proposed to modulate self-specifying and narrative self-networks through an integrative fronto-parietal control network. Relevant perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral neuropsychological processes are highlighted as supporting mechanisms for S-ART, including intention and motivation, attention regulation, emotion regulation, extinction and reconsolidation, prosociality, non-attachment, and decentering. The S-ART framework and neurobiological model is based on our growing understanding of the mechanisms for neurocognition, empirical literature, and through dismantling the specific meditation practices thought to cultivate mindfulness. The proposed framework will inform future research in the contemplative sciences and target specific areas for development in the treatment of psychological disorders.
Recent studies have suggested that the brain's structural and functional networks (i.e., connectomics) can be constructed by various imaging technologies (e.g., EEG/MEG; structural, diffusion and functional MRI) and further characterized by graph theory. Given the huge complexity of network construction, analysis and statistics, toolboxes incorporating these functions are largely lacking. Here, we developed the GRaph thEoreTical Network Analysis (GRETNA) toolbox for imaging connectomics. The GRETNA contains several key features as follows: (i) an open-source, Matlab-based, cross-platform (Windows and UNIX OS) package with a graphical user interface (GUI); (ii) allowing topological analyses of global and local network properties with parallel computing ability, independent of imaging modality and species; (iii) providing flexible manipulations in several key steps during network construction and analysis, which include network node definition, network connectivity processing, network type selection and choice of thresholding procedure; (iv) allowing statistical comparisons of global, nodal and connectional network metrics and assessments of relationship between these network metrics and clinical or behavioral variables of interest; and (v) including functionality in image preprocessing and network construction based on resting state functional MRI (R-fMRI) data. After applying the GRETNA to a publicly released R-fMRI dataset of 54 healthy young adults, we demonstrated that human brain functional networks exhibit efficient small-world, assortative, hierarchical and modular organizations and possess highly connected hubs and that these findings are robust against different analytical strategies. With these efforts, we anticipate that GRETNA will accelerate imaging connectomics in an easy, quick and flexible manner. GRETNA is freely available on the NITRC website.
Brain oscillations of different frequencies have been associated with a variety of cognitive functions. Convincing evidence supporting those associations has been provided by studies using intracranial stimulation, pharmacological interventions and lesion studies. The emergence of novel non-invasive brain stimulation techniques like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) now allows to modulate brain oscillations directly. Particularly, tACS offers the unique opportunity to causally link brain oscillations of a specific frequency range to cognitive processes, because it uses sinusoidal currents that are bound to one frequency only. Using tACS allows to modulate brain oscillations and in turn to influence cognitive processes, thereby demonstrating the causal link between the two. Here, we review findings about the physiological mechanism of tACS and studies that have used tACS to modulate basic motor and sensory processes as well as higher cognitive processes like memory, ambiguous perception, and decision making.
A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a communication system that allows the use of brain activity to control computers or other external devices. It can, by bypassing the peripheral nervous system, provide a means of communication for people suffering from severe motor disabilities or in a persistent vegetative state. In this paper, brain-signal generation tasks, noise removal methods, feature extraction/selection schemes, and classification techniques for fNIRS-based BCI are reviewed. The most common brain areas for fNIRS BCI are the primary motor cortex and the prefrontal cortex. In relation to the motor cortex, motor imagery tasks were preferred to motor execution tasks since possible proprioceptive feedback could be avoided. In relation to the prefrontal cortex, fNIRS showed a significant advantage due to no hair in detecting the cognitive tasks like mental arithmetic, music imagery, emotion induction, etc. In removing physiological noise in fNIRS data, band-pass filtering was mostly used. However, more advanced techniques like adaptive filtering, independent component analysis (ICA), multi optodes arrangement, etc. are being pursued to overcome the problem that a band-pass filter cannot be used when both brain and physiological signals occur within a close band. In extracting features related to the desired brain signal, the mean, variance, peak value, slope, skewness, and kurtosis of the noised-removed hemodynamic response were used. For classification, the linear discriminant analysis method provided simple but good performance among others: support vector machine (SVM), hidden Markov model (HMM), artificial neural network, etc. fNIRS will be more widely used to monitor the occurrence of neuro-plasticity after neuro-rehabilitation and neuro-stimulation. Technical breakthroughs in the future are expected via bundled-type probes, hybrid EEG-fNIRS BCI, and through the detection of initial dips.
We suggested recently that attention can be understood as inferring the level of uncertainty or precision during hierarchical perception. In this paper, we try to substantiate this claim using neuronal simulations of directed spatial attention and biased competition. These simulations assume that neuronal activity encodes a probabilistic representation of the world that optimizes free-energy in a Bayesian fashion. Because free-energy bounds surprise or the (negative) log-evidence for internal models of the world, this optimization can be regarded as evidence accumulation or (generalized) predictive coding. Crucially, both predictions about the state of the world generating sensory data and the precision of those data have to be optimized. Here, we show that if the precision depends on the states, one can explain many aspects of attention. We illustrate this in the context of the Posner paradigm, using the simulations to generate both psychophysical and electrophysiological responses. These simulated responses are consistent with attentional bias or gating, competition for attentional resources, attentional capture and associated speed-accuracy trade-offs. Furthermore, if we present both attended and non-attended stimuli simultaneously, biased competition for neuronal representation emerges as a principled and straightforward property of Bayes-optimal perception.
Entropy is a dimensionless quantity that is used for measuring uncertainty about the state of a system but it can also imply physical qualities, where high entropy is synonymous with high disorder. Entropy is applied here in the context of states of consciousness and their associated neurodynamics, with a particular focus on the psychedelic state. The psychedelic state is considered an exemplar of a primitive or primary state of consciousness that preceded the development of modern, adult, human, normal waking consciousness. Based on neuroimaging data with psilocybin, a classic psychedelic drug, it is argued that the defining feature of "primary states" is elevated entropy in certain aspects of brain function, such as the repertoire of functional connectivity motifs that form and fragment across time. Indeed, since there is a greater repertoire of connectivity motifs in the psychedelic state than in normal waking consciousness, this implies that primary states may exhibit "criticality," i.e., the property of being poised at a "critical" point in a transition zone between order and disorder where certain phenomena such as power-law scaling appear. Moreover, if primary states are critical, then this suggests that entropy is suppressed in normal waking consciousness, meaning that the brain operates just below criticality. It is argued that this entropy suppression furnishes normal waking consciousness with a constrained quality and associated metacognitive functions, including reality-testing and self-awareness. It is also proposed that entry into primary states depends on a collapse of the normally highly organized activity within the defaul-mode network (DMN) and a decoupling between the DMN and the medial temporal lobes (which are normally significantly coupled). These hypotheses can be tested by examining brain activity and associated cognition in other candidate primary states such as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and early psychosis and comparing these with non-primary states such as normal waking consciousness and the anaesthetized state.
While there is almost universal agreement amongst researchers that autism is associated with alterations in brain connectivity, the precise nature of these alterations continues to be debated. Theoretical and empirical work is beginning to reveal that autism is associated with a complex functional phenotype characterized by both hypo- and hyper-connectivity of large-scale brain systems. It is not yet understood why such conflicting patterns of brain connectivity are observed across different studies, and the factors contributing to these heterogeneous findings have not been identified. Developmental changes in functional connectivity have received inadequate attention to date. We propose that discrepancies between findings of autism related hypo-connectivity and hyper-connectivity might be reconciled by taking developmental changes into account. We review neuroimaging studies of autism, with an emphasis on functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of intrinsic functional connectivity in children, adolescents and adults. The consistent pattern emerging across several studies is that while intrinsic functional connectivity in adolescents and adults with autism is generally reduced compared with age-matched controls, functional connectivity in younger children with the disorder appears to be increased. We suggest that by placing recent empirical findings within a developmental framework, and explicitly characterizing age and pubertal stage in future work, it may be possible to resolve conflicting findings of hypo- and hyper-connectivity in the extant literature and arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of the neurobiology of autism.
Most people use the Internet as a functional tool to perform their personal goals in everyday-life such as making airline or hotel reservations. However, some individuals suffer from a loss of control over their Internet use resulting in personal distress, symptoms of psychological dependence, and diverse negative consequences. This phenomenon is often referred to as Internet addiction. Only Internet Gaming Disorder has been included in the appendix of the DSM-5, but it has already been argued that Internet addiction could also comprise problematic use of other applications with cybersex, online relations, shopping, and information search being Internet facets at risk for developing an addictive behavior. Neuropsychological investigations have pointed out that certain prefrontal functions in particular executive control functions are related to symptoms of Internet addiction, which is in line with recent theoretical models on the development and maintenance of the addictive use of the Internet. Control processes are particularly reduced when individuals with Internet addiction are confronted with Internet-related cues representing their first choice use. For example, processing Internet-related cues interferes with working memory performance and decision making. Consistent with this, results from functional neuroimaging and other neuropsychological studies demonstrate that cue-reactivity, craving, and decision making are important concepts for understanding Internet addiction. The findings on reductions in executive control are consistent with other behavioral addictions, such as pathological gambling. They also emphasize the classification of the phenomenon as an addiction, because there are also several similarities with findings in substance dependency. The neuropsychological and neuroimaging results have important clinical impact, as one therapy goal should enhance control over the Internet use by modifying specific cognitions and Internet use expectancies.
Childhood maltreatment is a stressor that can lead to the development of behavior problems and affect brain structure and function. This review summarizes the current evidence for the effects of childhood maltreatment on behavior, cognition and the brain in adults and children. Neuropsychological studies suggest an association between child abuse and deficit sin IQ, memory, working memory, attention, response inhibition and emotion discrimination. Structural neuroimaging studies provide evidence for deficits in brain volume, gray and white matter of several regions, most prominently the dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex but also hippocampus, amygdala, and corpus callosum (CC). Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies show evidence for deficits in structural interregional connectivity between these areas, suggesting neural network abnormalities. Functional imaging studies support this evidence by reporting atypical activation in the same brain regions during response inhibition, working memory, and emotion processing. There are, however, several limitations of the abuse research literature which are discussed, most prominently the lack of control for co-morbid psychiatric disorders, which make it difficult to disentangle which of the above effects are due to maltreatment, the associated psychiatric conditions or a combination or interaction between both. Overall, the better controlled studies that show a direct correlation between childhood abuse and brain measures suggest that the most prominent deficits associated with early childhood abuse are in the function and structure of lateral and ventromedial fronto-limbic brain areas and networks that mediate behavior a land affect control. Future, large scale multimodal neuroimaging studies in medication-naive subjects, however, are needed that control for psychiatric co-morbidities in order to elucidate the structural and functional brain sequelae that are associated with early environmental adversity, independently of secondary co-morbid conditions.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by problems with social-communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. A recent and thoughtprovoking article presented a normative explanation for the perceptual symptoms of autism in terms of a failure of Bayesian inference (Pellicano and Burr, 2012). In response, we suggested that when Bayesian inference is grounded in its neural instantiation namely, predictive coding many features of autistic perception can be attributed to aberrant precision (or beliefs about precision) within the context of hierarchical message passing in the brain (Friston et al., 2013). Here, we unpack the aberrant precision account of autism. Specifically, we consider how empirical findings that speak directly or indirectly to neurobiological mechanisms are consistent with the aberrant encoding of precision in autism; in particular, an imbalance of the precision ascribed to sensory evidence relative to prior beliefs.
The default mode network (DMN) of the brain consists of areas that are typically more active during rest than during active task performance. Recently however, this network has been shown to be activated by certain types of tasks. Social cognition, particularly higher-order tasks such as attributing mental states to others, has been suggested to activate a network of areas at least partly overlapping with the DMN. Here, we explore this claim, drawing on evidence from meta-analyses of functional MRI data and recent studies investigating the structural and functional connectivity of the social brain. In addition, we discuss recent evidence for the existence of a DMN in non-human primates. We conclude by discussing some of the implications of these observations.
The human brain has often been viewed as outstanding among mammalian brains: the most cognitively able, the largest-than-expected from body size, endowed with an overdeveloped cerebral cortex that represents over 80% of brain mass, and purportedly containing 100 billion neurons and 10 x more glial cells. Such uniqueness was seemingly necessary to justify the superior cognitive abilities of humans over larger-brained mammals such as elephants and whales. However, our recent studies using a novel method to determine the cellular composition of the brain of humans and other primates as well as of rodents and insectivores show that, since different cellular scaling rules apply to the brains within these orders, brain size can no longer be considered a proxy for the number of neurons in the brain. These studies also showed that the human brain is not exceptional in its cellular composition, as it was found to contain as many neuronal and non-neuronal cells as would be expected of a primate brain of its size. Additionally, the so-called overdeveloped human cerebral cortex holds only 19% of all brain neurons, a fraction that is similar to that found in other mammals. In what regards absolute numbers of neurons, however, the human brain does have two advantages compared to other mammalian brains: compared to rodents, and probably to whales and elephants as well, it is built according to the very economical, space-saving scaling rules that apply to other primates; and, among economically built primate brains, it is the largest, hence containing the most neurons. These findings argue in favor of a view of cognitive abilities that is centered on absolute numbers of neurons, rather than on body size or encephalization, and call for a re-examination of several concepts related to the exceptionality of the human brain.
The past 20 years have represented an important period in the development of principles underlying neuroplasticity, especially as they apply to recovery from neurological injury. It is now generally accepted that acquired brain injuries, such as occur in stroke or trauma, initiate a cascade of regenerative events that last for at least several weeks, if not months. Many investigators have pointed out striking parallels between post-injury plasticity and the molecular and cellular events that take place during normal brain development. As evidence for the principles and mechanisms underlying post-injury neuroplasticity has been gleaned from both animal models and human populations, novel approaches to therapeutic intervention have been proposed. One important theme has persisted as the sophistication of clinicians and scientist in their knowledge of neuroplasticity mechanisms has grown: behavioral experience is the most potent modulator of brain plasticity. While there is substantial evidence for this principle in normal, healthy brains, the injured brain is particularly malleable. Based on the quantity and quality of motor experience, the brain can be reshaped after injury in either adaptive or maladaptive ways. This paper reviews selected studies that have demonstrated the neurophysiological and neuroanatomical changes that are triggered by motor experience, by injury, and the interaction of these processes. In addition, recent studies using new and elegant techniques are providing novel perspectives on the events that take place in the injured brain, providing a real-time window into post-injury plasticity. These new approaches are likely to accelerate the pace of basic research, and provide a wealth of opportunities to translate basic principle into therapeutic methodologies.
Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) is widely used in both scientific research and clinical practice in in-vivo studies of the human brain. While a number of post-processing packages have been developed, fully automated processing of dMRI datasets remains challenging. Here, we developed a MATLAB toolbox named "Pipeline for Analyzing braiN Diffusion imAges" (PANDA) for fully automated processing of brain diffusion images. The processing modules of a few established packages, including FMRIB Software Library (FSL), Pipeline System for Octave and Matlab (PSOM), Diffusion Toolkit and MRIcron, were employed in PANDA. Using any number of raw dMRI datasets from different subjects, in either DICOM or NIfTI format, PANDA can automatically perform a series of steps to process DICOM/NIfTI to diffusion metrics [e.g., fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD)] that are ready for statistical analysis at the voxel-level, the atlas-level and the Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS)-level and can finish the construction of anatomical brain networks for all subjects. In particular, PANDA can process different subjects in parallel, using multiple cores either in a single computer or in a distributed computing environment, thus greatly reducing the time cost when dealing with a large number of datasets. In addition, PANDA has a friendly graphical user interface (GUI), allowing the user to be interactive and to adjust the input/output settings, as well as the processing parameters. As an open-source package, PANDA is freely available at http://www.nitrc.org/projects/panda/. This novel toolbox is expected to substantially simplify the image processing of dMRI datasets and facilitate human structural connectome studies.
In recent years high-frequency brain activity in the gamma-frequency band (30-80 Hz) and above has become the focus of a growing body of work in MEG/EEG research. Unfortunately, high-frequency neural activity overlaps entirely with the spectral bandwidth of muscle activity (similar to 20-300 Hz). It is becoming appreciated that artifacts of muscle activity may contaminate a number of non-invasive reports of high-frequency activity. In this review, the spectral, spatial, and temporal characteristics of muscle artifacts are compared with those described (so far) for high-frequency neural activity. In addition, several of the techniques that are being developed to help suppress muscle artifacts in MEG/EEG are reviewed. Suggestions are made for the collection, analysis, and presentation of experimental data with the aim of reducing the number of publications in the future that may contain muscle artifacts.
Schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BP) share significant overlap in clinical symptoms, brain characteristics, and risk genes, and both are associated with dysconnectivity among large-scale brain networks. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) data facilitates studying macroscopic connectivity among distant brain regions. Standard approaches to identifying such connectivity include seed-based correlation and data-driven clustering methods such as independent component analysis (ICA) but typically focus on average connectivity. In this study, we utilize ICA on rsfMRI data to obtain intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) in cohorts of healthy controls (HCs) and age matched SZ and BP patients. Subsequently, we investigated difference in functional network connectivity, defined as pairwise correlations among the timecourses of ICNs, between HCs and patients. We quantified differences in both static (average) and dynamic (windowed) connectivity during the entire scan duration. Disease-specific differences were identified in connectivity within different dynamic states. Notably, results suggest that patients make fewer transitions to some states (states 1, 2, and 4) compared to HCs, with most such differences confined to a single state. SZ patients showed more differences from healthy subjects than did bipolars, including both hyper and hypo connectivity in one common connectivity state (dynamic state 3). Also group differences between SZ and bipolar patients were identified in patterns (states) of connectivity involving the frontal (dynamic state 1) and frontal-parietal regions (dynamic state 3). Our results provide new information about these illnesses and strongly suggest that state-based analyses are critical to avoid averaging together important factors that can help distinguish these clinical groups.
Research involving event-related brain potentials has revealed that anxiety is associated with enhanced error monitoring, as reflected in increased amplitude of the error-related negativity (ERN). The nature of the relationship between anxiety and error monitoring is unclear, however. Through meta-analysis and a critical review of the literature, we argue that anxious apprehension/worry is the dimension of anxiety most closely associated with error monitoring. Although, overall, anxiety demonstrated a robust, "small-to-medium" relationship with enhanced ERN (r = -0.25), studies employing measures of anxious apprehension show a threefold greater effect size estimate (r = -0.35) than those utilizing other measures of anxiety (r = -0.09). Our conceptual framework helps explain this more specific relationship between anxiety and enhanced ERN and delineates the unique roles of worry, conflict processing, and modes of cognitive control. Collectively, our analysis suggests that enhanced ERN in anxiety results from the interplay of a decrease in processes supporting active goal maintenance and a compensatory increase in processes dedicated to transient reactivation of task goals on an as-needed basis when salient events (i.e., errors) occur.
During voluntary hand movement, we sense that we generate the movement and that the hand is a part of our body. These feelings of control over bodily actions, or the sense of agency, and the ownership of body parts are two fundamental aspects of the way we consciously experience our bodies. However, title is known about how these processes are functionally linked. Here, we introduce a version of the rubber hand illusion in which participants control the movements of the index finger of a model hand, which is in full view, by moving their own right index finger. We demonstrated that voluntary finger movements elicit a robust illusion of owning the rubber hand and that the senses of ownership and agency over the model hand can be dissociated. We systematically varied the relative timing of the finger movements (synchronous versus asynchronous), the mode of movement (active versus passive), and the position of the model hand (anatomically congruent versus incongruent positions). Importantly, asynchrony eliminated both ownership and agency, passive movements abolished the sense of agency but left ownership intact, and incongruent positioning of the model hand diminished ownership but did not eliminate agency. These findings provide evidence for a double dissociation of ownership and agency, suggesting that they represent distinct cognitive processes. Interestingly, we also noted that the sense of agency was stronger when the hand was perceived to be a part of the body, and only in this condition did we observe a significant correlation between the subjects' ratings of agency and ownership. We discuss this in the context of possible differences between agency over owned body parts and agency over actions that involve interactions with external objects. In summary, the results obtained in this study using a simple moving rubber hand illusion paradigm extend previous findings on the experience of ownership and agency and shed new light on their relationship.