Synchronizing theta oscillations with direct-current stimulation strengthens adaptive control in the human brain.
ABSTRACT: Executive control and flexible adjustment of behavior following errors are essential to adaptive functioning. Loss of adaptive control may be a biomarker of a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly in the schizophrenia spectrum. Here, we provide support for the view that oscillatory activity in the frontal cortex underlies adaptive adjustments in cognitive processing following errors. Compared with healthy subjects, patients with schizophrenia exhibited low frequency oscillations with abnormal temporal structure and an absence of synchrony over medial-frontal and lateral-prefrontal cortex following errors. To demonstrate that these abnormal oscillations were the origin of the impaired adaptive control in patients with schizophrenia, we applied noninvasive dc electrical stimulation over the medial-frontal cortex. This noninvasive stimulation descrambled the phase of the low-frequency neural oscillations that synchronize activity across cortical regions. Following stimulation, the behavioral index of adaptive control was improved such that patients were indistinguishable from healthy control subjects. These results provide unique causal evidence for theories of executive control and cortical dysconnectivity in schizophrenia.
Project description:In this report we describe how common brain networks within the medial frontal cortex (MFC) facilitate adaptive behavioral control in rodents and humans. We demonstrate that after errors, low-frequency oscillations below 12 Hz are modulated over the midfrontal cortex in humans and within the prelimbic and anterior cingulate regions of the MFC in rats. These oscillations were phase locked between the MFC and motor areas in both rats and humans. In rats, single neurons that encoded prior behavioral outcomes were phase coherent with low-frequency field oscillations, particularly after errors. Inactivating the medial frontal regions in rats led to impaired behavioral adjustments after errors, eliminated the differential expression of low-frequency oscillations after errors and increased low-frequency spike-field coupling within the motor cortex. Our results describe a new mechanism for behavioral adaptation through low-frequency oscillations and elucidate how medial frontal networks synchronize brain activity to guide performance.
Project description:Cognitive dysfunction is a pervasive and disabling aspect of schizophrenia without adequate treatments. A recognized correlate to cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia is attenuated frontal theta oscillations. Neuromodulation to normalize these frontal rhythms represents a potential novel therapeutic strategy. Here, we evaluate whether noninvasive neuromodulation of the cerebellum in patients with schizophrenia can enhance frontal theta oscillations, with the future goal of targeting the cerebellum as a possible therapy for cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. We stimulated the midline cerebellum using transcranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS), a noninvasive transcranial direct current that can be delivered in a frequency-specific manner. A single 20-min session of theta frequency stimulation was delivered in nine patients with schizophrenia (cathode on right shoulder). Delta frequency tPCS was also delivered as a control to evaluate for frequency-specific effects. EEG signals from midfrontal electrode Cz were analyzed before and after cerebellar tPCS while patients estimated the passage of 3- and 12-s intervals. Theta oscillations were significantly larger following theta frequency cerebellar tPCS in the midfrontal region, which was not seen with delta frequency stimulation. As previously reported, patients with schizophrenia showed a baseline reduction in accuracy estimating 3- and 12-s intervals relative to control subjects, which did not significantly improve following a single-session theta or delta frequency cerebellar tPCS. These preliminary results suggest that single-session theta frequency cerebellar tPCS may modulate task-related oscillatory activity in the frontal cortex in a frequency-specific manner. These preliminary findings warrant further investigation to evaluate whether multiple sessions delivered daily may have an impact on cognitive performance and have therapeutic implications for schizophrenia.
Project description:Rescuing executive functions in people with neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders has been a major goal of psychology and neuroscience for decades. Innovative computer-training regimes for executive functions have made tremendous inroads, yet the positive effects of training have not always translated into improved cognitive functioning and often take many days to emerge. In the present study, we asked whether it was possible to immediately change components of executive function by directly manipulating neural activity using a stimulation technology called high-definition transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-tACS). Twenty minutes of inphase stimulation over medial frontal cortex (MFC) and right lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) synchronized theta (?6 Hz) rhythms between these regions in a frequency and spatially specific manner and rapidly improved adaptive behavior with effects lasting longer than 40 min. In contrast, antiphase stimulation in the same individuals desynchronized MFC-lPFC theta phase coupling and impaired adaptive behavior. Surprisingly, the exogenously driven impairments in performance could be instantly rescued by reversing the phase angle of alternating current. The results suggest executive functions can be rapidly up- or down-regulated by modulating theta phase coupling of distant frontal cortical areas and can contribute to the development of tools for potentially normalizing executive dysfunction in patient populations.
Project description:The goal of this study was to use transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to examine the role of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in neural oscillatory activity associated with proactive cognitive control in schizophrenia. To do so, we tested the impact of PFC-targeted tDCS on behavioral and electrophysiological markers of proactive cognitive control engagement in individuals with schizophrenia. Using a within-participants, double-blinded, sham-controlled crossover design, we recorded EEG while participants with schizophrenia completed a proactive cognitive control task (the Dot Pattern Expectancy (DPX) Task), after receiving 20?min of active prefrontal stimulation at 2?mA or sham stimulation. We hypothesized that active stimulation would enhance proactive cognitive control, leading to changes in behavioral performance on the DPX task and in activity in the gamma frequency band during key periods of the task designed to tax proactive cognitive control. The results showed significant changes in the pattern of error rates and increases in EEG gamma power as a function of tDCS condition (active or sham), that were indicative of enhanced proactive cognitive control. These findings, considered alongside our previous work in healthy adults, provides novel support for the role gamma oscillations in proactive cognitive control and they suggest that frontal tDCS may be a promising approach to enhance proactive cognitive control in schizophrenia.
Project description:Converging evidence from electrophysiological studies suggests that in individuals with schizophrenia, electroencephalographic frontal fast oscillations are reduced. It is still unclear whether this reduction reflects an intrinsic deficit of underlying cortical/thalamocortical circuits and whether this deficit is specific for frontal regions. Recent electrophysiological studies in healthy individuals have established that, when perturbed, different brain regions oscillate at a specific, intrinsically generated dominant frequency, the natural frequency.To assess the natural frequency of the posterior parietal, motor, premotor, and prefrontal cortices in patients with schizophrenia and healthy control subjects.High-density electroencephalographic recordings during transcranial magnetic stimulation of 4 cortical areas were performed. Several transcranial magnetic stimulation–evoked electroencephalographic oscillation parameters, including synchronization, amplitude, and natural frequency, were compared across the schizophrenia and healthy control groups.Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Wisconsin–Madison.Twenty patients with schizophrenia and 20 age-matched healthy control subjects.High-density electroencephalographic measurements of transcranial magnetic stimulation–evoked activity in 4 cortical areas, scores on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and performance scores (reaction time, accuracy) on 2 computerized tasks (word memory [Penn Word Recognition Test] and facial memory [Penn Facial Memory Test]).Patients with schizophrenia showed a slowing in the natural frequency of the frontal/prefrontal regions compared with healthy control subjects (from an average of a 2-Hz decrease for the motor area to an almost 10-Hz decrease for the prefrontal cortex). The prefrontal natural frequency of individuals with schizophrenia was slower than in any healthy comparison subject and correlated with both positive Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores and reaction time on the Penn Word Recognition Test.These findings suggest that patients with schizophrenia have an intrinsic slowing in the natural frequency of frontal cortical/thalamocortical circuits, that this slowing is not present in parietal areas, and that the prefrontal natural frequency can predict some of the symptoms as well as the cognitive dysfunctions of schizophrenia.
Project description:Neurobiological theories posit that schizophrenia relates to disturbances in connectivity between brain regions. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging is a powerful tool for examining functional connectivity and has revealed several canonical brain networks, including the default mode, dorsal attention, executive control, and salience networks. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in these networks in schizophrenia. 42 patients with schizophrenia and 61 healthy subjects completed a RS-fMRI scanning session. Seed-based region-of-interest correlation analysis was used to identify the default mode, dorsal attention, executive control, and salience networks. Compared to healthy subjects, individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated greater connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex, a key hub of the default mode, and the left inferior gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, and left middle temporal gyrus. Interestingly, these regions were more strongly connected to the executive control network in healthy control subjects. In contrast to the default mode, patients demonstrated less connectivity in the executive control and dorsal attention networks. No differences were observed in the salience network. The results indicate that resting-state networks are differentially affected in schizophrenia. The alterations are characterized by reduced segregation between the default mode and executive control networks in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe, and reduced connectivity in the dorsal attention and executive control networks. The changes suggest that the process of functional specialization is altered in schizophrenia. Further work is needed to determine if the alterations are related to disturbances in white matter connectivity, neurodevelopmental abnormalities, and genetic risk for schizophrenia.
Project description:In the pursuit of further establishing a neurodevelopmental animal model to investigate the mechanisms underlying impaired executive function, a core and severely debilitating symptom of schizophrenia, we sought to characterize the deficits in behavioral flexibility in adult rats following neonatal infusions of nerve growth factor (NGF) into the medial part of the developing frontal cortex. Our previous studies using this neonatal frontal cortical lesion model have shown that it leads to adult-onset positive and negative symptom-like features, and several neuropathological abnormalities of schizophrenia. In the present study, we used operant conditioning-based paradigms to investigate set-shifting ability and reversal learning performance in adult rats that received infusions of NGF into the developing frontal cortex on post-natal day 1. NGF-infusion caused apoptosis of cells in the subplate layer. Adult rats that received neonatal infusions of NGF showed decreased grey matter thickness, and decreased levels of parvalbumin in prelimbic and infralimbic areas of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). NGF-treated rats had difficulty completing the set-shifting and reversal learning tasks due to increased perseverance (ie, a failure to disengage from the previously-learned strategy once the rule contingencies were changed) compared to the control group. Collectively, these results identify the crucial role of the frontal cortical subplate layer in the structural and functional development of the mPFC relevant to schizophrenia. Furthermore, the present findings substantially advance the face and construct validity of this putative preclinical model of schizophrenia based on developmental disruption of the frontal cortical subplate.
Project description:Hypofrontality is a state of decreased cerebral blood flow in the prefrontal cortex during executive function performance; it is commonly observed in patients with schizophrenia. Cognitive dysfunction, as well as the psychological symptoms of schizophrenia, influences the ability of patients to reintegrate into society. The current study investigated the effects of an interactive sports video game (IVG; Nintendo Wii™ Sports Resort) on frontal lobe function of patients with schizophrenia. A sample of eight patients (6 male and 2 female; mean age = 46.7 years, standard deviation (SD) = 13.7) engaged in an IVG every week for 3 months in a controlled, single-blind, crossover study. Before and after the intervention we examined frontal lobe blood-flow volume using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and assessed functional changes using the Frontal Assessment Battery, Health-Related Quality of Life scale, and behaviorally-assessed physical function tests. fNIRS revealed that prefrontal activity during IVG performance significantly increased in the IVG period compared with the control period. Furthermore, significant correlations between cerebral blood flow changes in different channels were observed during IVG performance. In addition, we observed intervention-related improvement in health-related quality of life following IVG. IVG intervention was associated with increased prefrontal cortex activation and improved health-related quality of life performance in patients with schizophrenia. Patients with chronic schizophrenia are characterized by withdrawal and a lack of social responsiveness or interest in others. Interventions using IVG may provide a useful low-cost rehabilitation method for such patients, without the need for specialized equipment.
Project description:Schizophrenia is a devastating illness with an indeterminate pathophysiology. Several lines of evidence implicate dysfunction in the thalamus, a key node in the distributed neural networks underlying perception, emotion, and cognition. Existing evidence of aberrant thalamic function is based on indirect measures of thalamic activity, but dysfunction has not yet been demonstrated with a causal method.To test the hypothesis that direct physiological stimulation of the cortex will produce an abnormal thalamic response in individuals with schizophrenia.We stimulated the precentral gyrus with single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (spTMS) and measured the response to this pulse in synaptically connected regions (thalamus, medial superior frontal cortex, insula) using concurrent functional magnetic resonance imaging. The mean hemodynamic response from these regions was fit with the sum of 2 gamma functions, and response parameters were compared across groups.Academic research laboratory.Patients with schizophrenia and sex- and age-matched psychiatrically healthy subjects were recruited from the community.Peak amplitude of the thalamic hemodynamic response to spTMS of the precentral gyrus.The spTMS-evoked responses did not differ between groups at the cortical stimulation site. Compared with healthy subjects, patients with schizophrenia showed a reduced response to spTMS in the thalamus (P=1.86 × 10(-9)) and medial superior frontal cortex (P=.02). Similar results were observed in the insula. Sham TMS indicated that these results could not be attributed to indirect effects of TMS coil discharge. Functional connectivity analyses revealed weaker thalamus-medial superior frontal cortex and thalamus-insula connectivity in patients with schizophrenia compared with control subjects.Individuals with schizophrenia showed reduced thalamic activation in response to direct perturbation delivered to the cortex. These results extend prior work implicating the thalamus in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and suggest that the thalamus contributes to the patterns of aberrant connectivity characteristic of this disease.
Project description:Transcranial static magnetic field stimulation (tSMS) is a novel non-invasive brain stimulation technique that has been shown to locally increase alpha power in the parietal and occipital cortex. We investigated if tSMS locally increased alpha power in the left or right prefrontal cortex, as the balance of left/right prefrontal alpha power (frontal alpha asymmetry) has been linked to emotional processing and mood disorders. Therefore, altering frontal alpha asymmetry with tSMS may serve as a novel treatment to psychiatric diseases. We performed a crossover, double-blind, sham-controlled pilot study to assess the effects of prefrontal tSMS on neural oscillations. Twenty-four right-handed healthy participants were recruited and received left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) tSMS, right DLPFC tSMS, and sham tSMS in a randomized order. Electroencephalography data were collected before (2 min eyes-closed, 2 min eyes-open), during (10 min eyes-open), and after (2 min eyes-open) stimulation. In contrast with our hypothesis, neither left nor right tSMS locally increased frontal alpha power. However, alpha power increased in occipital cortex during left DLPFC tSMS. Right DLPFC tSMS increased post-stimulation fronto-parietal theta power, indicating possible relevance to memory and cognition. Left and right DLPFC tSMS increased post-stimulation left hemisphere beta power, indicating possible changes to motor behavior. Left DLPFC tSMS also increased post-stimulation right frontal beta power, demonstrating complex network effects that may be relevant to aggressive behavior. We concluded that DLPFC tSMS modulated the network oscillations in regions distant from the location of stimulation and that tSMS has region specific effects on neural oscillations.