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Hi all, I'm one of the editors for this journal (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience) and I wanted to be able to post about recent papers, call for research topics, etc. If you're interested in human neuroscience, check us out! 🤔

Continuing with getting to know your editors! For the Sensory Neuroscience section of FHN, Jae Kun Shim is the section editor: He studies action (gait, running, wrist movements, etc.) and applications for improvement and rehabilitation--

This article from 2017 reviews how studies in videogaming and neuroimaging are done, rather than what's been found."The rich diversity of methodologies and research goals means that the study of functional brain correlates covers practically all regions of the brain." So depending on what you ask about--its effects on attention, memory, visual speed of processing, motor skill, task-switching, or its role in addiction and violent behavior--there's a lot there!

People recovering from a vegetative state who are in the "emerging from the minimally conscious state" are not in the best of shape. But they are hard to recruit for a study, as you might imagine! In this paper they worked with 12 such people and 12 matched but not injured people, and looked at EEG differences. Theta band (4-8 Hz) signals in fronto-parietal regions (cognitive control brain regions, anyone?) seemed to be related to the level of dysfunction... 🤔

Get to know your editors! Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has a LOT of editors that handle the articles, track down reviewers, and make sure the review process--well, we try to make it go smoothly! For the Motor Neuroscience section, meet one who uses TMS and EEG to study the cognitive neuro of human action:

This paper examines the idea that a part of the inferior frontal cortex in humans, left Brodmann area 44 (BA44), uses the same algorithm to organize language syntax AND goal directed action. (Working two jobs at once!)

E.g., "Most languages are either SOV or SVO, and, building on prior work, it is argued that these strong syntactic tendencies derive from how left BA44 represents the sequential-hierarchical structure of goal-directed actions." 😲 Huh!!

Given the prevalence of spinal cord injury and severe paralysis, this is a good one-- "....action observation, combined with motor imagery (AO + MI) of walking, induces walking-related cortical activity. Therefore, we combined FES [Functional Electrical Stimulation], which alternately generates dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, with AO + MI as an alternative to gait training...."

Walking and imagining walking, combined with FES, does what they want... 👣

One of my previous students took her undergrad honors thesis to her PhD program and they revised it and expanded it into her first publication!! Could not be prouder!!

"Self-Entropic Broadening Theory: Toward a New Understanding of Self and Behavior Change Informed by Psychedelics and Psychosis"

Fibromyalgia is very difficult to live with, and to treat. This paper--just accepted--reports the results of a clinical trial using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in women with FM, focusing on the cognitive symptoms. tDCS is non-invasive electrical stimulation that is a lot easier to deal with other techniques. They find four weeks of daily sessions does something!

Don't try this at home just yet, but check out the full paper when it's out. 💡

This one is full of information! "Individuals with Down's Syndrome (DS) have three copies of chromosome 21, which includes the gene involved in the production of the amyloid precursor protein, resulting in an increased risk for an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The goal of this study was to understand the relationship between engagement in moderate physical activity, memory, and hippocampal volume in adults with DS."

Read it and find out... 😁

This is a collection of articles from Frontiers in Psychology--On the interactions with music during the lockdowns, the enforced spatial distancing, the support of the arts, the role in mental health, etc. Fascinating reading!

"Social Convergence in Times of Spatial Distancing: The Role of Music During the COVID-19 Pandemic"

The patterns of your brain's activity when at rest has been posited to be a "fingerprint", since machine learning systems can be trained to pick out which resting state fMRI scans belong to the same person. Here, they did a clever manipulation of language processing to examine which circuits are contributing to that "fingerprinting", and if it differs when the cognitive demands are high. (Frontal cortex FTW!)

"Brain fingerprints along the language hierarchy"

This paper is from 2013, but it is a nice example of reviewing the literature, developing models and assessing the evidence for/against them. It's a good review!

They build on body-focused meditation, and develop a model predicting what should happen and why, in chronic pain and depression.

"Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation"

Have I mentioned this one before? 6 months of yoga meditation--the details are laid out in the article if you want to try this at home--in elderly folks with mild cognitive impairment or likely Alzheimer's, and structural MRI scans before and after. It's small sample sizes, sadly a number of participants had to drop out; but there's some evidence of gray matter improvement with the meditation intervention. No change in cognitive performance, though.

This is a paper from 2012, so there are more recent developments, I'm sure--but it's a good read on the challenges of cross-species, translational neuroscience. Where IS the thalamus in a zebrafish? How do you know? When do you give up and say they haven't got one? How can you use information about their thalamus, its structure, development, and connections, to make sense of the mammalian thalamus? 😁

Can watching a virtual avatar exercise increase your heartrate and improve performance on a cognitive task? Previous work in young adults, using a first person perspective (1PP) virtual reality setup, says yes. This follow-up experiment in elderly subjects found they showed the same heart rate increases but the cognitive improvements weren't there, and the blood flow didn't change in frontal cortex. But it's one session--maybe you need more if you're older?

While we're talking about the thalamus, check out this collection of articles on the role of the thalamus in cognition, from 2015. The editorial is a good overview--though you might want to check wikipedia for all the names of parts of the thalamus so you can draw a picture of what does what-- 🧠

Let's talk about the thalamus! (Seriously: A supremely important part of the brain!) In "All Roads Lead to Rome: Harnessing Thalamic Neuromodulation for Difficult-to-treat Neurological Disorders" we have articles on stimulating the thalamus for treatment of drug resistant epilepsy. It's wild--they can use the implants in the thalamus in humans to detect and stop the seizures, is the general idea. It's small studies or lit reviews but the impact can be tremendous!

Chipping away at a problem--this is a study of 15 subjects with celiac disease and 15 without, looking at various measures of blood flow in the brain. Some of the effects are small, possibly due to chance, some are more promising and worth a follow up, to examine the mechanisms of neurological effects from celiac disease...

In this digital working environment, a research topic call for papers--"The guest editors are particularly interested in articles that foster a human value-centered understanding and analysis of, or the solution(s) to, challenges posed by digitalization in workplace contexts..."

Digitalization can increase efficiency, make the work place safer, etc., but brings with it challenges to "dignity, autonomy, and integrity". How do deal with that?

"Here we acquired anatomical, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and resting state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) from 35 children at 3.5 years of age." So many hours of frustration are hidden in that sentence! Getting MRI data from children at that age is unbelievably difficult! But they could look at reading abilities when the children were 4.5 years, and show which grey and white matter circuits at 3 years old related to later, early reading abilities. Well done!

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