Similarities and differences between parietal and frontal patients in autobiographical and constructed experience tasks.
ABSTRACT: Recent findings suggest that constructed experience, the ability to envision future events, activates the same cortical network as recollection of past events. For example, damage to one key area, the hippocampus, impairs patients' ability to remember the past and to imagine novel experiences (Hassabis, Kumaran, Vann, & Maguire, 2007). Here, we investigated whether damage to two other areas, posterior parietal cortex and prefrontal cortex, also impairs this ability. Patients with bilateral posterior parietal lesions or unilateral prefrontal lesions were tested in their ability to describe imaginary future events. Only parietal patients were impaired at freely describing autobiographical memories, but both patient groups were impaired when elaborating constructed experiences. This dissociation suggests that parietal and prefrontal structures are differentially involved in constructed experience. Current tasks may impose overly broad cognitive demands making it impossible to specify the deficient cognitive component in any patient group. These findings provide additional constraints regarding the mechanistic role of the parietal cortex in memory.
Project description:Prefrontal-parietal networks are essential to many cognitive processes, including the ability to differentiate new from previously presented items. As patients with schizophrenia exhibit structural abnormalities in these areas along with well documented decrements in recognition memory, we hypothesized that these patients would demonstrate memory-related abnormalities in prefrontal and parietal physiology as measured by both functional magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography (MEG). Medicated outpatients with schizophrenia (n = 18) and age-matched healthy control subjects (n = 18) performed an old-new recognition memory task while physiological data were obtained. Whereas controls exhibited strong, bilateral activation of prefrontal and posterior parietal regions during successful identification of old versus new items, patients exhibited greatly attenuated activation of the right prefrontal and parietal cortices. However, within the patient group, there was strong correlation between memory performance and activation of these right-sided regions as well as a tight correlation between old-new effect-related activations in frontal and parietal regions, a pattern not seen in control subjects. Using MEG, control subjects-but not patients-exhibited a sequential pattern of old > new activity in the left posterior parietal cortex and then right prefrontal cortex; however, patients uniquely exhibited old > new activity in right temporal cortex. Collectively, these findings point to markedly different distributions of regional specialization necessary to complete the old-new item recognition task in patients versus controls. Inefficient utilization of prefrontal-parietal networks, with compensatory activation in temporal regions, may thus contribute to deficient old-new item recognition in schizophrenia.
Project description:The cerebellum processes information from functionally diverse regions of the cerebral cortex. Cerebellar input and output nuclei have connections with prefrontal, parietal, and sensory cortex as well as motor and premotor cortex. However, the topography of the connections between the cerebellar and cerebral cortices remains largely unmapped, as it is relatively unamenable to anatomical methods. We used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to define subregions within the cerebellar cortex based on their functional connectivity with the cerebral cortex. We mapped resting-state functional connectivity voxel-wise across the cerebellar cortex, for cerebral-cortical masks covering prefrontal, motor, somatosensory, posterior parietal, visual, and auditory cortices. We found that the cerebellum can be divided into at least 2 zones: 1) a primary sensorimotor zone (Lobules V, VI, and VIII), which contains overlapping functional connectivity maps for domain-specific motor, somatosensory, visual, and auditory cortices; and 2) a supramodal zone (Lobules VIIa, Crus I, and II), which contains overlapping functional connectivity maps for prefrontal and posterior-parietal cortex. The cortical connectivity of the supramodal zone was driven by regions of frontal and parietal cortex which are not directly involved in sensory or motor processing, including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the frontal pole, and the inferior parietal lobule.
Project description:When experiences become meaningful to the self, they are linked to synchronous activity in a paralimbic network of self-awareness and dopaminergic activity. This network includes medial prefrontal and medial parietal/posterior cingulate cortices, where transcranial magnetic stimulation may transiently impair self-awareness. Conversely, we hypothesize that dopaminergic stimulation may improve self-awareness and metacognition (i.e., the ability of the brain to consciously monitor its own cognitive processes). Here, we demonstrate improved noetic (conscious) metacognition by oral administration of 100 mg dopamine in minimal self-awareness. In a separate experiment with extended self-awareness dopamine improved the retrieval accuracy of memories of self-judgment (autonoetic, i.e., explicitly self-conscious) metacognition. Concomitantly, magnetoencephalography (MEG) showed increased amplitudes of oscillations (power) preferentially in the medial prefrontal cortex. Given that electromagnetic activity in this region is instrumental in self-awareness, this explains the specific effect of dopamine on explicit self-awareness and autonoetic metacognition.
Project description:The single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1344706 in ZNF804A is one of the best-supported risk variants for psychosis. We hypothesized that this SNP contributes to the development of schizophrenia by affecting the ability to understand other people's mental states. This skill, commonly referred to as Theory of Mind (ToM), has consistently been found to be impaired in schizophrenia. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we previously showed that in healthy individuals rs1344706 impacted on activity and connectivity of key areas of the ToM network, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, temporo-parietal junction, and the posterior cingulate cortex, which show aberrant activity in schizophrenia patients, too. We aimed to replicate these results in an independent sample of 188 healthy German volunteers. In order to assess the reliability of brain activity elicited by the ToM task, 25 participants performed the task twice with an interval of 14 days showing excellent accordance in recruitment of key ToM areas. Confirming our previous results, we observed decreasing activity of the left temporo-parietal junction, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and the posterior cingulate cortex with increasing number of risk alleles during ToM. Complementing our replication sample with the discovery sample, analyzed in a previous report (total N=297), further revealed negative genotype effects in the left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex as well as in the temporal and parietal regions. In addition, as shown previously, rs1344706 risk allele dose positively predicted increased frontal-temporo-parietal connectivity. These findings confirm the effects of the psychosis risk variant in ZNF804A on the dysfunction of the ToM network.
Project description:Behavioral research has demonstrated an advantage for females compared with males in social information processing. However, little is known about sex-related differences in brain activation during understanding of self and others. In the current functional magnetic resonance imaging study, this was assessed in late adolescents (aged 18-19) and young adults (aged 23-25) when making appraisals of self and other as well as reflected self-appraisals. Across all groups and for all appraisal conditions, activation was observed in the medial prefrontal cortex, medial posterior parietal cortex, left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left posterior parietal cortex. Males activated the medial posterior parietal cortex and bilateral temporoparietal junction more than females. The precuneus showed stronger activation in males compared with females specifically during appraisals of others. No differences between late adolescents and young adults were found. These results indicate that sex differences exist in the neural bases of social understanding.
Project description:Working memory capacity, the maximum number of items that we can transiently store in working memory, is a good predictor of our general cognitive abilities. Neural activity in both dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex has been associated with memory retention during visuospatial working memory tasks. The parietal cortex is thought to store the memories. However, the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a top-down control area, during pure information retention is debated, and the mechanisms regulating capacity are unknown. Here, we propose that a major role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in working memory is to boost parietal memory capacity. Furthermore, we formulate the boosting mechanism computationally in a biophysical cortical microcircuit model and derive a simple, explicit mathematical formula relating memory capacity to prefrontal and parietal model parameters. For physiologically realistic parameter values, lateral inhibition in the parietal cortex limits mnemonic capacity to a maximum of 2-7 items. However, at high loads inhibition can be counteracted by excitatory prefrontal input, thus boosting parietal capacity. Predictions from the model were confirmed in an fMRI study. Our results show that although memories are stored in the parietal cortex, interindividual differences in memory capacity are partly determined by the strength of prefrontal top-down control. The model provides a mechanistic framework for understanding top-down control of working memory and specifies two different contributions of prefrontal and parietal cortex to working memory capacity.
Project description:Remembering events from the personal past (autobiographical memory) and inferring the thoughts and feelings of other people (mentalizing) share a neural substrate. The shared functional neuroanatomy of these processes has been demonstrated in a meta-analysis of independent task domains (Spreng, Mar & Kim, 2009) and within subjects performing both tasks (Rabin, Gilboa, Stuss, Mar, & Rosenbaum, 2010; Spreng & Grady, 2010). Here, we examine spontaneous low-frequency fluctuations in fMRI BOLD signal during rest from two separate regions key to memory and mentalizing, the left hippocampus and right temporal parietal junction, respectively. Activity in these two regions was then correlated with the entire brain in a resting-state functional connectivity analysis. Although the left hippocampus and right temporal parietal junction were not correlated with each other, both were correlated with a distributed network of brain regions. These regions were consistent with the previously observed overlap between autobiographical memory and mentalizing evoked brain activity found in past studies. Reliable patterns of overlap included the superior temporal sulcus, anterior temporal lobe, lateral inferior parietal cortex (angular gyrus), posterior cingulate cortex, dorsomedial and ventral prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, and the amygdala. We propose that the functional overlap facilitates the integration of personal and interpersonal information and provides a means for personal experiences to become social conceptual knowledge. This knowledge, in turn, informs strategic social behavior in support of personal goals. In closing, we argue for a new perspective within social cognitive neuroscience, emphasizing the importance of memory in social cognition.
Project description:Consciousness is determined both by level (e.g., being awake versus being anesthetized) and content (i.e., the qualitative aspects of experience). Subcortical areas are known to play a causal role in regulating the level of consciousness [1-9], but the role of the cortex is less well understood. Clinical and correlative data have been used both to support and refute a role for prefrontal and posterior cortices in the level of consciousness [10-22]. The prefrontal cortex has extensive reciprocal connections to wake-promoting centers in the brainstem and diencephalon [23, 24], and hence is in a unique position to modulate level of consciousness. Furthermore, a recent study suggested that the prefrontal cortex might be important in regulating level of consciousness  but causal evidence, and a comparison with more posterior cortical sites, is lacking. Therefore, to test the hypothesis that prefrontal cortex plays a role in regulating level of consciousness, we attempted to reverse sevoflurane anesthesia by cholinergic or noradrenergic stimulation of the prefrontal prelimbic cortex and two areas of parietal cortex in rat. General anesthesia was defined by loss of the righting reflex, a widely used surrogate measure in rodents. We demonstrate that cholinergic stimulation of prefrontal cortex, but not parietal cortex, restored wake-like behavior, despite continuous exposure to clinically relevant concentrations of sevoflurane anesthesia. Noradrenergic stimulation of the prefrontal and parietal areas resulted in electroencephalographic activation but failed to produce any signs of wake-like behavior. We conclude that cholinergic mechanisms in prefrontal cortex can regulate the level of consciousness.
Project description:The default mode network (DMN) is associated with a wide range of brain functions. In humans, the DMN is marked by strong functional connectivity among three core regions: medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), posterior parietal cortex (PPC), and the medial parietal and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Neuroimaging studies have shown that the DMN also exists in non-human primates, suggesting that it may be a conserved feature of the primate brain. Here, we found that, in common marmosets, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC; peak at A8aD) has robust fMRI functional connectivity and reciprocal anatomical connections with the posterior DMN core regions (PPC and PCC), while the mPFC has weak connections with the posterior DMN core regions. This strong dlPFC but weak mPFC connectivity in marmoset differs markedly from the stereotypical DMN in humans. The mPFC may be involved in brain functions that are further developed in humans than in other primates.
Project description:Prefrontal cortex influences behavior largely through its connections with other association cortices; however, the nature of the information conveyed by prefrontal output signals and what effect these signals have on computations performed by target structures is largely unknown. To address these questions, we simultaneously recorded the activity of neurons in prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices of monkeys performing a rule-based spatial categorization task. Parietal cortex receives direct prefrontal input, and parietal neurons, like their prefrontal counterparts, exhibit signals that reflect rule-based cognitive processing in this task. By analyzing rapid fluctuations in the cognitive information encoded by activity in the two areas, we obtained evidence that signals reflecting rule-dependent categories were selectively transmitted in a top-down direction from prefrontal to parietal neurons, suggesting that prefrontal output is important for the executive control of distributed cognitive processing.