Differential effects of non-dual and focused attention meditations on the formation of automatic perceptual habits in expert practitioners.
ABSTRACT: Non-dual meditation aims to undo maladaptive cognitive and affective patterns by recognizing their constructed and transient nature. We previously found high-amplitude spontaneous gamma (25-40?Hz) oscillatory activity during such practice. Nonetheless, it is unclear how this meditation state differs from other practices, in terms of perceptual information processing. Here, we hypothesized that non-dual meditation can downregulate the automatic formation of perceptual habits. To investigate this hypothesis, we recorded EEG from expert Buddhist meditation practitioners and matched novices to measure two components of the auditory evoked response: the Mismatch Negativity (MMN) and the Late Frontal Negativity (LFN), a potential observed at a latency sensitive to attentional engagement to the auditory environment, during the practices of Open Presence (OP) and Focused Attention (FA), as well as during a control state, in the context of a passive oddball paradigm. We found an increase in gamma oscillatory power during both meditation states in expert practitioners and an interaction between states and groups in the amplitude of the MMN. A further investigation identified the specific interplay between the MMN and the LFN as a possible marker to differentiate the two meditation states as a function of expertise. In experts, the MMN increased during FA, compared to OP, while the opposite pattern was observed at the LFN latency. We propose that the state of OP in experts is characterized by increased sensory monitoring and reduced perceptual inferences compared to FA. This study represents a first attempt to describe the impact of non-dual meditation states on the regulation of automatic brain predictive processes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Impairments in mismatch negativity (MMN) generation have been consistently reported in patients with schizophrenia. However, underlying oscillatory activity of MMN deficits in schizophrenia and the relationship with cognitive impairments have not been investigated in detail. Time-frequency power and phase analyses can provide more detailed measures of brain dynamics of MMN deficits in schizophrenia. METHOD: 21 patients with schizophrenia and 21 healthy controls were tested with a roving frequency paradigm to generate MMN. Time-frequency domain power and phase-locking (PL) analysis was performed on all trials using short-time Fourier transforms with Hanning window tapering. A comprehensive battery (CANTAB) was used to assess neurocognitive functioning. RESULTS: Mean MMN amplitude was significantly lower in patients with schizophrenia (95% CI 0.18 - 0.77). Patients showed significantly lower EEG power (95% CI -1.02 - -0.014) in the ~4-7 Hz frequency range (theta band) between 170 and 210 ms. Patients with schizophrenia showed cognitive impairment in multiple domains of CANTAB. However, MMN impairments in amplitude and power were not correlated with clinical measures, medication dose, social functioning or neurocognitive performance. CONCLUSION: The findings from this study suggested that while MMN may be a useful marker to probe NMDA receptor mediated mechanisms and associated impairments in gain control and perceptual changes, it may not be a useful marker in association with clinical or cognitive changes. Trial-by-trial EEG power analysis can be used as a measure of brain dynamics underlying MMN deficits which also can have implications for the use of MMN as a biomarker for drug discovery.
Project description:Multivariate pattern classification methods are increasingly applied to neuroimaging data in the context of both fundamental research and in brain-computer interfacing approaches. Such methods provide a framework for interpreting measurements made at the single-trial level with respect to a set of two or more distinct mental states. Here, we define an approach in which the output of a binary classifier trained on data from an auditory mismatch paradigm can be used for online tracking of perception and as a neurofeedback signal. The auditory mismatch paradigm is known to induce distinct perceptual states related to the presentation of high- and low-probability stimuli, which are reflected in event-related potential (ERP) components such as the mismatch negativity (MMN). The first part of this paper illustrates how pattern classification methods can be applied to data collected in an MMN paradigm, including discussion of the optimization of preprocessing steps, the interpretation of features and how the performance of these methods generalizes across individual participants and measurement sessions. We then go on to show that the output of these decoding methods can be used in online settings as a continuous index of single-trial brain activation underlying perceptual discrimination. We conclude by discussing several potential domains of application, including neurofeedback, cognitive monitoring and passive brain-computer interfaces.
Project description:Deficits in the generation of auditory mismatch negativity (MMN) generation are among the most widely replicated neurophysiological abnormalities in schizophrenia and are linked to underlying dysfunction of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-mediated neurotransmission. Here, we evaluate physiological properties of rodent MMN, along with sensitivity to NMDAR agonist and antagonist treatments, relative to known patterns of dysfunction in schizophrenia. Epidural neurophysiological responses to frequency and duration deviants, along with responses to standard stimuli, were obtained at baseline and following 2 and 4 weeks' treatment in rats treated with saline, phencyclidine (PCP, 15?mg/kg/d by osmotic minipump), or PCP+glycine (16% by weight diet) interventions. Responses were analyzed using both event-related potential (ERP) and neuro-oscillatory (evoked power) approaches. At baseline, rodent duration MMN was associated with increased theta (?)-frequency response similar to that observed in humans. PCP significantly reduced rodent duration MMN (p<0.001) and ?-band (p<0.01) response. PCP effects were prevented by concurrent glycine treatment (p<0.01 vs PCP alone). Effects related to stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA) were observed primarily in the alpha (?) and beta (?) frequency ranges. PCP treatment also significantly reduced ?-frequency response to standard stimuli while increasing ?-band response, reproducing the pattern of deficit observed in schizophrenia. Overall, we demonstrate that rodent duration MMN shows neuro-oscillatory signature similar to human MMN, along with sensitivity to the NMDAR antagonist and agonist administration. These findings reinforce recent human studies linking MMN deficits to ?-band neuro-oscillatory dysfunction and support utility of rodent duration MMN as a translational biomarker for investigation of mechanisms underlying impaired local circuit function in schizophrenia.
Project description:Because the auditory system is particularly useful in monitoring the environment, previous research has examined whether task-irrelevant, auditory distracters are processed even if subjects focus their attention on visual stimuli. This research suggests that attentionally demanding visual tasks decrease the auditory mismatch negativity (MMN) to simultaneously presented auditory distractors. Because a recent behavioral study found that high visual perceptual load decreased detection sensitivity of simultaneous tones, we used a similar task (n = 28) to determine if high visual perceptual load would reduce the auditory MMN. Results suggested that perceptual load did not decrease the MMN. At face value, these nonsignificant findings may suggest that effects of perceptual load on the MMN are smaller than those of other demanding visual tasks. If so, effect sizes should differ systematically between the present and previous studies. We conducted a selective meta-analysis of published studies in which the MMN was derived from the EEG, the visual task demands were continuous and varied between high and low within the same task, and the task-irrelevant tones were presented in a typical oddball paradigm simultaneously with the visual stimuli. Because the meta-analysis suggested that the present (null) findings did not differ systematically from previous findings, the available evidence was combined. Results of this meta-analysis confirmed that demanding visual tasks reduce the MMN to auditory distracters. However, because the meta-analysis was based on small studies and because of the risk for publication biases, future studies should be preregistered with large samples (n > 150) to provide confirmatory evidence for the results of the present meta-analysis. These future studies should also use control conditions that reduce confounding effects of neural adaptation, and use load manipulations that are defined independently from their effects on the MMN.
Project description:Listeners assign different weights to spectral dynamics, such as formant rise time (FRT), and temporal dynamics, such as amplitude rise time (ART), during phonetic judgments. We examined the neurophysiological basis of FRT and ART weighting in the /ba/-/wa/ contrast. Electroencephalography was recorded for thirteen adult English speakers during a mismatch negativity (MMN) design using synthetic stimuli: a /ba/ with /ba/-like FRT and ART; a /wa/ with /wa/-like FRT and ART; and a /ba/(wa) with /ba/-like FRT and /wa/-like ART. We hypothesized that because of stronger reliance on FRT, subjects would encode a stronger memory trace and exhibit larger MMN during the FRT than the ART contrast. Results supported this hypothesis. The effect was most robust in the later portion of MMN. Findings suggest that MMN is generated by multiple sources, differentially reflecting acoustic change detection (earlier MMN, bottom-up process) and perceptual weighting of ART and FRT (later MMN, top-down process).
Project description:Computerized cognitive training is gaining empirical support for use in the treatment of schizophrenia (SZ). Although cognitive training is efficacious for SZ at a group level when delivered in sufficiently intensive doses (eg, 30-50?h), there is variability in individual patient response. The identification of biomarkers sensitive to the neural systems engaged by cognitive training interventions early in the course of treatment could facilitate personalized assignment to treatment. This proof-of-concept study was conducted to determine whether mismatch negativity (MMN), an event-related potential index of auditory sensory discrimination associated with cognitive and psychosocial functioning, would predict gains in auditory perceptual learning and exhibit malleability after initial exposure to the early stages of auditory cognitive training in SZ. MMN was assessed in N=28 SZ patients immediately before and after completing 1?h of a speeded time-order judgment task of two successive frequency-modulated sweeps (Posit Science 'Sound Sweeps' exercise). All SZ patients exhibited the expected improvements in auditory perceptual learning over the 1?h training period (p<0.001), consistent with previous results. Larger MMN amplitudes recorded both before and after the training exercises were associated with greater gains in auditory perceptual learning (r=-0.5 and r=-0.67, respectively, p's<0.01). Significant pretraining vs posttraining MMN amplitude reduction was also observed (p<0.02). MMN is a sensitive index of the neural systems engaged in a single session of auditory cognitive training in SZ. These findings encourage future trials of MMN as a biomarker for individual assignment, prediction, and/or monitoring of patient response to procognitive interventions, including auditory cognitive training in SZ.
Project description:The mismatch negativity (MMN) component of the auditory event-related potential has become a valuable tool in cognitive neuroscience. Its reduced size in persons with schizophrenia is of unknown origin but theories proposed include links to problems in experience-dependent plasticity reliant on N-methyl-d-aspartate glutamate receptors. In this review we address the utility of this tool in revealing the nature and time course of problems in perceptual inference in this illness together with its potential for use in translational research testing animal models of schizophrenia-related phenotypes. Specifically, we review the reasons for interest in MMN in schizophrenia, issues pertaining to the measurement of MMN, its use as a vulnerability index for the development of schizophrenia, the pharmacological sensitivity of MMN and the progress in developing animal models of MMN. Within this process we highlight the challenges posed by knowledge gaps pertaining to the tool and the pharmacology of the underlying system.
Project description:Neurofeedback is a strong direct training method for brain function, wherein brain activity patterns are measured and displayed as feedback, and trainees try to stabilize the feedback signal onto certain desirable states to regulate their own mental states. Here, we introduce a novel neurofeedback method, using the mismatch negativity (MMN) responses elicited by similar sounds that cannot be consciously discriminated. Through neurofeedback training, without participants' attention to the auditory stimuli or awareness of what was to be learned, we found that the participants could unconsciously achieve a significant improvement in the auditory discrimination of the applied stimuli. Our method has great potential to provide effortless auditory perceptual training. Based on this method, participants do not need to make an effort to discriminate auditory stimuli, and can choose tasks of interest without boredom due to training. In particular, it could be used to train people to recognize speech sounds that do not exist in their native language and thereby facilitate foreign language learning.
Project description:Previous behavioral studies showed that it is not until around the age of seven that German children reliably use case markers for the interpretation of complex sentences. Some explanations of this late development suggested that children might have difficulties in perceptual differentiation between function words that carry case information. We tested this hypothesis by using the neurophysiological index of pre-attentive discrimination, the mismatch negativity (MMN). Our data showed that children at the age of 3 years are able to automatically discriminate between the two determiner forms der and den when presented out of sentential context. The determiner form der elicited a more mature MMN response in children than the form den. In adults, the MMN pattern also differed with der showing an earlier peak than den. These findings indicate that der is easier to process than den, which in turn is related to the occurrence frequency of the determiner forms in language.
Project description:Research on American-English (AE) vowel perception by Spanish-English bilinguals has focused on the vowels /i/-/?/ (e.g., in sheep/ship). Other AE vowel contrasts may present perceptual challenges for this population, especially those requiring both spectral and durational discrimination. We used Event-Related Potentials (ERPs), MMN (Mismatch Negativity) and P300, to index discrimination of AE vowels /?/-/?/ by sequential adult Spanish-English bilingual listeners compared to AE monolinguals. Listening tasks were non-attended and attended, and vowels were presented with natural and neutralized durations. Regardless of vowel duration, bilingual listeners showed no MMN to unattended sounds, and P300 responses were elicited to /?/ but not /?/ in the attended condition. Monolingual listeners showed pre-attentive discrimination (MMN) for /?/ only; while both vowels elicited P300 responses when attended. Findings suggest that Spanish-English bilinguals recruit attentional and cognitive resources enabling native-like use of both spectral and durational cues to discriminate between AE vowels /?/ and /?/.