Is schizotypic maternal personality linked to sensory gating abilities during infancy?
ABSTRACT: Schizotypy is a personality dimension within the general population elevated among schizophrenia-spectrum patients and their first-degree relatives. Sensory gating is the pre-attentional habituation of responses distinguishing between important and irrelevant information. This is measured by event-related potentials, which have been found to display abnormalities in schizophrenic disorders. The current study investigated whether 6-month-old infants of mothers with schizotypic traits display sensory gating abnormalities. The paired-tone paradigm: two identical auditory tones (stimulus 1 and stimulus 2) played 500 ms apart, was used to probe the selective activation of the brain during 15-minutes of sleep. Their mothers completed the Oxford and Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences-Short Form as an index of schizotypy dimensionality, categorized into: infants of control, and infants of schizotypic, mothers. The findings revealed that although the infants' P50 components displayed significant differences between stimulus 1 and stimulus 2 in the paired-tone paradigm, there was no clear difference between infants of schizotypic and infants of control mothers. In contrast, all mothers displayed significant differences between stimulus 1 and stimulus 2, as observed in the infants, but also significant differences between their sensory gating ability correlated with schizotypy dimensionality. These findings are consistent with sensory processes, such as sensory gating, evidencing impairment in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. The present research supports the idea that first-degree relatives of individuals who identify on this spectrum, within the sub-clinical category, do not display the same deficit at 6 postnatal months of age.
Project description:Infants learn to use auditory and visual information to organize the sensory world into identifiable objects with particular locations. Here we use a behavioural method to examine infants' use of harmonicity cues to auditory object perception in a multisensory context. Sounds emitted by different objects sum in the air and the auditory system must figure out which parts of the complex waveform belong to different sources (auditory objects). One important cue to this source separation is that complex tones with pitch typically contain a fundamental frequency and harmonics at integer multiples of the fundamental. Consequently, adults hear a mistuned harmonic in a complex sound as a distinct auditory object (Alain, Theunissen, Chevalier, Batty, & Taylor, 2003). Previous work by our group demonstrated that 4-month-old infants are also sensitive to this cue. They behaviourally discriminate a complex tone with a mistuned harmonic from the same complex with in-tune harmonics, and show an object-related event-related potential (ERP) electrophysiological (EEG) response to the stimulus with mistuned harmonics. In the present study we use an audiovisual procedure to investigate whether infants perceive a complex tone with an 8% mistuned harmonic as emanating from two objects, rather than merely detecting the mistuned cue. We paired in-tune and mistuned complex tones with visual displays that contained either one or two bouncing balls. Four-month-old infants showed surprise at the incongruous pairings, looking longer at the display of two balls when paired with the in-tune complex and at the display of one ball when paired with the mistuned harmonic complex. We conclude that infants use harmonicity as a cue for source separation when integrating auditory and visual information in object perception.
Project description:Processing of two-tone stimuli by the auditory system introduces prominent masking of one frequency component by the other as well as additional "phantom" tones that are absent in the sound input. Mechanical correlates of these psychophysical phenomena have been observed in sound-evoked mechanical vibrations of the mammalian cochlea and are thought to originate in sensory hair cells from the intrinsic nonlinearity associated with mechano-electrical transduction by ion channels. However, nonlinearity of the transducer is not sufficient to explain the rich phenomenology of two-tone interferences in hearing. Here we show that active oscillatory movements of single hair-cell bundles elicit two-tone suppression and distortions that are shaped by nonlinear amplification of periodic stimuli near the characteristic frequency of spontaneous oscillations. When both stimulus frequencies enter the bandwidth of the hair-bundle amplifier, two-tone interferences display level functions that are characteristic both of human psychoacoustics and of in vivo mechanical measurements in auditory organs. Our work distinguishes the frequency-dependent nonlinearity that emerges from the active process that drives the hair bundle into spontaneous oscillations from the passive nonlinear compliance associated with the direct gating of transduction channels by mechanical force. Numerical simulations based on a generic description of an active dynamical system poised near an oscillatory instability--a Hopf bifurcation--account quantitatively for our experimental observations. In return, we conclude that the properties of two-tone interferences in hearing betray the workings of self-sustained "critical" oscillators, which function as nonlinear amplifying elements in the inner ear.
Project description:Gating of sensory information can be assessed using an auditory conditioning-test paradigm which measures the reduction in the auditory evoked response to a test stimulus following an initial conditioning stimulus. Recording brainwaves from specific areas of the brain using multiple electrodes is helpful in the study of the neurobiology of sensory gating. In this paper, we use such technology to investigate the role of cannabinoids in sensory gating in the CA3 region of the rat hippocampus. Our experimental results show that application of the exogenous cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 can abolish sensory gating. We have developed a phenomenological model of cannabinoid dynamics incorporated within a spiking neural network model of CA3 with synaptically interacting pyramidal and basket cells. Direct numerical simulations of this model suggest that the basic mechanism for this effect can be traced to the suppression of inhibition of slow GABA(B) synapses. Furthermore, by working with a simpler mathematical firing rate model we are able to show the robustness of this mechanism for the abolition of sensory gating.
Project description:The capacity to suppress irrelevant incoming input, termed sensory gating, is one of the most investigated inhibitory processes associated with cognitive impairments due to aging. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of aging on sensory gating by using somatosensory event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by repetitive non-painful tactile stimulation (paired-pulsed task). Somatosensory ERPs were recorded in 20 healthy young adults and 20 healthy older adults while they received two identical pneumatic stimuli (S1 and S2) of 100 ms duration with an inter-stimulus interval of 550 ± 50 ms on both forefingers. The difference between the somatosensory ERPs amplitude elicited by S1 and S2 was computed as a sensory gating measure. The amplitude and the latency of P50, N100 and late positive complex (LPC) were analyzed as well as the source generators of the gating effect. Reduced sensory gating was found in older individuals for N100 at frontal and centro-parietal electrodes and for LPC at fronto-central electrodes. Source localization analyses also revealed a reduced current density during gating effect in the older group in frontal areas in N100 and LPC. Moreover, older individuals showed delayed latencies in N100. No significant gating effect differences were found between groups in P50. These findings suggest an age-related slowing of processing speed and a reduced efficiency of inhibitory mechanisms in response to repetitive somatosensory information during stimulus evaluation, and a preservation of processing speed and inhibitory control during early stimulus coding in aging.
Project description:Background: What lactating mothers eat flavors breast milk and, in turn, modifies their infants' acceptance of similarly flavored foods.Objective: We sought to determine the effects of the timing and duration of eating a variety of vegetables during breastfeeding on the liking of vegetables in both members of the dyad.Design: We conducted a randomized controlled study of 97 mother-infant dyads. Lactating mothers drank vegetable, beet, celery, and carrot juices for 1 mo beginning at 0.5, 1.5, or 2.5 mo postpartum or for 3 mo beginning at 0.5 mo postpartum. The control group drank equal volumes of water and avoided drinking the juices. Mothers rated the tastes of the juices and self-reported dietary intakes at each monthly visit (0.5-4.5 mo). After weaning, when 7.9 mo of age, infants' acceptance of plain, carrot-flavor (exposed flavor), and broccoli-flavor (nonexposed flavor) cereals was assessed on separate days.Results: The timing of exposure affected the acceptance of the carrot flavor that did not generalize to the novel broccoli flavor. A relatively brief experience (1 mo) with vegetable flavors in mothers' milk, starting at 0.5 mo postpartum, was sufficient to shift the hedonic tone, which resulted in a faster rate of eating carrot-flavored cereal than that in infants who were exposed during subsequent months or not at all. One month of exposure had a greater effect than 3 mo of exposure or no exposure. Regardless of when exposure occurred, infants were less likely to display facial expressions of distaste initially when eating the carrot cereal. Over time, mothers liked the tastes of carrot, beet, and celery juices more, but no changes in dietary intake of vegetables were observed.Conclusions: Early life may be an optimum time for both infants and their mothers to learn to like the taste of healthy foods. More research is needed to facilitate the liking and eating of these foods by mothers, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of their feeding these foods to their children. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01667549.
Project description:This study updates and provides evidence for the dimensionality, reliability, and validity of a standard instrument for detection and measurement of schizotypy in non-clinical young adults. Schizotypy represents a set of traits on which both nonclinical and schizophrenia-spectrum populations vary meaningfully. These traits are linked to biological, cognitive, and social dimensions of serious mental illness (SMI), to clinical and subclinical variation in personal and social functioning, and to risk for SMI. Reliable and valid identification of schizotypal traits has important implications for clinical practice and research. Four consecutive independent samples of undergraduates were administered the SPQ-BR (N=2552). Confirmatory factor analyses suggested a minor item wording change improved reliability, and this Updated questionnaire was implemented for three-quarters of the sample (SPQ-BRU). A, single-order, nine-factor structure had acceptable psychometric properties. The best fitting second-order structure included four higher-order factors that distinguished Social Anxiety and Interpersonal factors. This differentiation was supported by differential relationships with treatment history. The Disorganized factor had the greatest unique relationship with personal and family treatment history. With few exceptions, factor loadings showed stability across samples. Overall, the higher-order and lower-order factors of schizotypy demonstrated reliability and convergent and discriminant validity; detailed psychometric data are presented in a supplement.
Project description:Sensory gating (SG) is a neurophysiological phenomenon whereby the response to the second stimulus in a repetitive pair is attenuated. This filtering of irrelevant or redundant information is thought to preserve neural resources for more behaviorally-relevant stimuli and thereby reflect the functional inhibition of sensory input. Developing a SG paradigm in which optimal suppression of sensory input is achieved requires investigators to consider numerous parameters such as stimulus intensity, time between stimulus pairs, and the inter-stimulus interval (ISI) within each pair. While these factors have been well defined for the interrogation of auditory gating, the precise parameters for eliciting optimal gating in the somatosensory domain are far less understood. To address this, we investigated the impact of varying the ISI within each identical pair of stimuli on gating using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Specifically, 25 healthy young adults underwent paired-pulse electrical stimulation of the median nerve with increasing ISIs between 100 and 1000 ?ms (in 100 ?ms increments). Importantly, for correspondence with previous studies of somatosensory gating, both time-domain and oscillatory neural responses to somatosensory stimulation were evaluated. Our results indicated that gating of somatosensory input was optimal (i.e., best suppression) for trials with an ISI of 200-220 ?ms, as evidenced by the smallest gating ratios and through statistical modeling estimations of optimal suppression. Importantly, this was true irrespective of whether oscillatory or evoked neural activity was used to calculate SG. Interestingly, oscillatory metrics of gating calculated using peak gamma (30-75 ?Hz) power and frequency revealed more robust gating (i.e., smaller ratios) than those calculated using time-domain neural responses, suggesting that high frequency oscillations may provide a more sensitive measure of SG. These findings have important implications for the development of optimal protocols and analysis pipelines to interrogate SG and inhibitory processing with a higher degree of sensitivity and accuracy.
Project description:Abnormalities in synaptic plasticity are argued to underlie the neural dysconnectivity observed in schizophrenia. One way to measure synaptic plasticity is through sensory adaptation, whereby sensory neurons exhibit reduced sensitivity after sustained stimulus exposure. Evidence for decreased adaptation in individuals with schizophrenia is currently inconclusive, possibly due to heterogeneity in clinical and medication status across samples. Here we circumvent these confounds by examining whether altered adaptation is represented sub-clinically in the general population. To test this we used three paradigms from visual perception research that provide a precise and non-invasive index of adaptation in the visual system. Two paradigms involve a class of illusory percepts termed visual aftereffects. The third relies on a visual phenomenon termed binocular rivalry, where incompatible stimuli are presented to the two eyes and observers alternate between perceiving exclusively one stimulus or a combination of the two (i.e. mixed perception). We analyzed the strength and dynamics of visual adaptation in these paradigms, in relation to schizotypy. Our results showed that increased schizotypal traits were related to reduced orientation, but not luminance, aftereffect strength (Exp. 1). Further, increased schizotypy was related to a greater proportion of mixed perception during binocular rivalry (Exp. 1 and 2). Given that visual adaption is well understood at cellular and computational levels, our data suggest that short-term plasticity in the visual system can provide important information about the disease mechanisms of schizophrenia.
Project description:All sensory systems face the fundamental challenge of encoding weak signals in noisy backgrounds. Although discrimination abilities can improve with practice, these benefits rarely generalize to untrained stimulus dimensions. Inspired by recent findings that action video game training can impart a broader spectrum of benefits than traditional perceptual learning paradigms, we trained adult humans and mice in an immersive audio game that challenged them to forage for hidden auditory targets in a 2D soundscape. Both species learned to modulate their angular search vectors and target approach velocities based on real-time changes in the level of a weak tone embedded in broadband noise. In humans, mastery of this tone in noise task generalized to an improved ability to comprehend spoken sentences in speech babble noise. Neural plasticity in the auditory cortex of trained mice supported improved decoding of low-intensity sounds at the training frequency and an enhanced resistance to interference from background masking noise. These findings highlight the potential to improve the neural and perceptual salience of degraded sensory stimuli through immersive computerized games.