Browsing by Subject "NEURAL MECHANISMS"

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  • Vainio, Lari; Ellis, Rob (2020)
    This article reviews evidence for the special inhibitory mechanisms required to keep response activation related to affordances of a non-target object from evoking responses. This evidence presents that response activation triggered by affordances of a non-target are automatically inhibited resulting, for example, in decelerated response speed when the response is compatible with the affordance. The article also highlights the neural processes that differentiate these non-target-related affordance effects from other non-target-related effects such as the Eriksen flanker effect that-contrary to these affordance effects-present decelerated response speed when there is incompatibility between the non-target and the response. The article discusses the role of frontal executive mechanisms in controlling action planning processes in these non-target-related affordance effects. It is also proposed that overlapping inhibition mechanisms prevent executing impulsive actions relative to affordances of a target and exaggerate inhibition of response activation triggered by affordances of a non-target.
  • Papazacharias, Apostolos; Taurisano, Paolo; Fazio, Leonardo; Gelao, Barbara; Di Giorgio, Annabella; Lo Bianco, Luciana; Quarto, Tiziana; Mancini, Marina; Porcelli, Annamaria; Romano, Raffaella; Caforio, Grazia; Todarello, Orlando; Popolizio, Teresa; Blasi, Giuseppe; Bertolino, Alessandro (2015)
    Earlier studies have demonstrated that emotional stimulation modulates attentional processing during goal directed behavior and related activity of a brain network including the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and the caudate nucleus. However, it is not clear how emotional interference modulates behavior and brain physiology during variation in attentional control, a relevant question for everyday life situations in which both emotional stimuli and cognitive load vary. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of negative emotions on behavior and activity in IFG and caudate nucleus during increasing levels of attentional control. Twenty two healthy subjects underwent event related functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a task in which neutral or fearful facial expressions were displayed before stimuli eliciting increasing levels of attentional control processing. Results indicated slower reaction time (RI) and greater right IFG activity when fearful compared with neutral facial expressions preceded the low level of attentional control. On the other hand, fearful facial expressions preceding the intermediate level of attentional control elicited faster behavioral responses and greater activity in the right and left sides of the caudate. Finally, correlation analysis indicated a relationship between behavioral correlates of attentional control after emotional interference and right IFG activity. All together, these results suggest that the impact of negative emotions on attentional processing is differentially elicited at the behavioral and physiological levels as a function of cognitive load.
  • Pallesen, Karen Johanne; Brattico, Elvira; Bailey, Christopher J.; Korvenoja, Antti; Koivisto, Juha; Gjedde, Albert; Carlson, Synnove (2010)
    Musical competence may confer cognitive advantages that extend beyond processing of familiar musical sounds. Behavioural evidence indicates a general enhancement of both working memory and attention in musicians. It is possible that musicians, due to their training, are better able to maintain focus on task-relevant stimuli, a skill which is crucial to working memory. We measured the blood oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) activation signal in musicians and non-musicians during working memory of musical sounds to determine the relation among performance, musical competence and generally enhanced cognition. All participants easily distinguished the stimuli. We tested the hypothesis that musicians nonetheless would perform better, and that differential brain activity would mainly be present in cortical areas involved in cognitive control such as the lateral prefrontal cortex. The musicians performed better as reflected in reaction times and error rates. Musicians also had larger BOLD responses than non-musicians in neuronal networks that sustain attention and cognitive control, including regions of the lateral prefrontal cortex, lateral parietal cortex, insula, and putamen in the right hemisphere, and bilaterally in the posterior dorsal prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus. The relationship between the task performance and the magnitude of the BOLD response was more positive in musicians than in non-musicians, particularly during the most difficult working memory task. The results confirm previous findings that neural activity increases during enhanced working memory performance. The results also suggest that superior working memory task performance in musicians rely on an enhanced ability to exert sustained cognitive control. This cognitive benefit in musicians may be a consequence of focused musical training.
  • Putkinen, Vesa; Saarikivi, Katri; Chan, Tsz Man Vanessa; Tervaniemi, Mari (2021)
    Previous work suggests that musical training in childhood is associated with enhanced executive functions. However, it is unknown whether this advantage extends to selective attention-another central aspect of executive control. We recorded a well-established event-related potential (ERP) marker of distraction, the P3a, during an audio-visual task to investigate the maturation of selective attention in musically trained children and adolescents aged 10-17 years and a control group of untrained peers. The task required categorization of visual stimuli, while a sequence of standard sounds and distracting novel sounds were presented in the background. The music group outperformed the control group in the categorization task and the younger children in the music group showed a smaller P3a to the distracting novel sounds than their peers in the control group. Also, a negative response elicited by the novel sounds in the N1/MMN time range (similar to 150-200 ms) was smaller in the music group. These results indicate that the music group was less easily distracted by the task-irrelevant sound stimulation and gated the neural processing of the novel sounds more efficiently than the control group. Furthermore, we replicated our previous finding that, relative to the control group, the musically trained children and adolescents performed faster in standardized tests for inhibition and set shifting. These results provide novel converging behavioral and electrophysiological evidence from a cross-modal paradigm for accelerated maturation of selective attention in musically trained children and adolescents and corroborate the association between musical training and enhanced inhibition and set shifting.
  • Salmela, Viljami; Salo, Emma; Salmi, Juha; Alho, Kimmo (2018)
    The fronto-parietal attention networks have been extensively studied with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but spatiotemporal dynamics of these networks are not well understood. We measured event-related potentials (ERPs) with electroencephalography (EEG) and collected fMRI data from identical experiments where participants performed visual and auditory discrimination tasks separately or simultaneously and with or without distractors. To overcome the low temporal resolution of fMRI, we used a novel ERP-based application of multivariate representational similarity analysis (RSA) to parse time-averaged fMRI pattern activity into distinct spatial maps that each corresponded, in representational structure, to a short temporal ERP segment. Discriminant analysis of ERP-fMRI correlations revealed 8 cortical networks-2 sensory, 3 attention, and 3 other-segregated by 4 orthogonal, temporally multifaceted and spatially distributed functions. We interpret these functions as 4 spatiotemporal components of attention: modality-dependent and stimulus-driven orienting, top-down control, mode transition, and response preparation, selection and execution.
  • Rouhinen, Santeri; Siebenhühner, Felix; Palva, J. Matias; Palva, Satu (2020)
    The capacity of visual attention determines how many visual objects may be perceived at any moment. This capacity can be investigated with multiple object tracking (MOT) tasks, which have shown that it varies greatly between individuals. The neuronal mechanisms underlying capacity limits have remained poorly understood. Phase synchronization of cortical oscillations coordinates neuronal communication within the fronto-parietal attention network and between the visual regions during endogenous visual attention. We tested a hypothesis that attentional capacity is predicted by the strength of pretarget synchronization within attention-related cortical regions. We recorded cortical activity with magneto- and electroencephalography (M/EEG) while measuring attentional capacity with MOT tasks and identified large-scale synchronized networks from source-reconstructed M/EEG data. Individual attentional capacity was correlated with load-dependent strengthening of theta (3-8 Hz), alpha (8-10 Hz), and gamma-band (30-120 Hz) synchronization that connected the visual cortex with posterior parietal and prefrontal cortices. Individual memory capacity was also preceded by crossfrequency phase-phase and phase-amplitude coupling of alpha oscillation phase with beta and gamma oscillations. Our results show that good attentional capacity is preceded by efficient dynamic functional coupling and decoupling within brain regions and across frequencies, which may enable efficient communication and routing of information between sensory and attentional systems.
  • Mehl, Nora; Morys, Filip; Villringer, Arno; Horstmann, Annette (2019)
    Obesity is associated with automatically approaching problematic stimuli, such as unhealthy food. Cognitive bias modification (CBM) could beneficially impact problematic approach behavior. However, it is unclear which mechanisms are targeted by CBM in obesity. Candidate mechanisms include: (1) altering reward value of food stimuli; and (2) strengthening inhibitory abilities. Thirty-three obese adults completed either CBM or sham training during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. CBM consisted of implicit training to approach healthy and avoid unhealthy foods. At baseline, approach tendencies towards food were present in all participants. Avoiding vs. approaching food was associated with higher activity in the right angular gyrus (rAG). CBM resulted in a diminished approach bias towards unhealthy food, decreased activation in the rAG, and increased activation in the anterior cingulate cortex. Relatedly, functional connectivity between the rAG and right superior frontal gyrus increased. Analysis of brain connectivity during rest revealed training-related connectivity changes of the inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral middle frontal gyri. Taken together, CBM strengthens avoidance tendencies when faced with unhealthy foods and alters activity in brain regions underpinning behavioral inhibition.