Papers for the month of September 2017


Vida, Mark

"Subcortical facilitation of rapid responses to threat"
Scientific Reports, in press:1-4

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.Behavioral responses to threat are critical to survival. Several cortical and subcortical brain regions respond selectively to threat. However, the relation of these neural responses and their underlying representations to behavior is unclear. We examined the contribution of lower-order subcortical representations to behavioral responses to threat in adult humans using a Wheatstone stereoscope that allowed us to present two consecutive stimuli to one eye or one of the pair to each eye. We observed a monocular advantage, which indicates subcortical facilitation, for ancestral threats (snakes, spiders), but not for modern threats, positive images, or neutral images. For snakes only, we observed a temporal hemifield advantage, which indicates facilitation by the retino-tectal subcortical pathway. These results advance the current understanding of processing of threat by adult humans by revealing the characteristics of behaviors driven by a lower-order neural mechanism that is specialized for the processing of ancestral threats. The results also contribute to ongoing debates concerning the biological generality of neural mechanisms for processing of complex, emotionally-relevant stimuli by providing evidence for conservation of lower-order neural mechanisms for processing of ancestral threats across both ontogeny and phylogeny.


Freud E., Culham J., Plaut D. & Behrmann M.,

"The large-scale organization of shape processing in the ventral and dorsal pathways"
eLIFE, 0:0

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.Functional neuroimaging reveals sensitivity to shape information and correlation between brain activation and perceptual behaviour in both dorsal and ventral visual pathways, thereby challenging the strict binary distinctions between the two pathways.


Koch, G

"Variation across individuals and items determine learning outcomes from fast mapping"
Neuropsychologia, 0:1

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.An investigation of how learning by fast mapping is affected by the typicality of known items retrieved during learning, and individual differences in memory tendencies.


Jagadisan, U.

"Removal of inhibition uncovers latent movement potential during preparation"
Elife, 6:29648

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.Popular theories suggest that movement planning and execution occur in serial stages, separated by a decision boundary in neural activity space (e.g., “threshold”), which needs to be crossed before the movement is executed. By removing inhibitory gating on the motor system, we show here that the activity required to initiate a saccade can be flexibly modulated. We also show that evolving activity during movement planning is a hidden motor command.


Li Y., Richardson RMR

"Multi-Connection Pattern Analysis: Decoding the representational content of neural communication."
NeuroImage, 162:32-44

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.Here we introduce a novel multivariate method for single trial decoding and representational similarity analysis for the shared activity between regions (functional connectivity). We also show how this method can be used to decode the representational content of functional functional connectivity information in fMRI and electrophysiological data. A Github repository for Matlab code to implement the method is included and we would be happy to help anyone who was interested in using it.


Cushman, F., 1. Hannikainen, I.R.

"Is utilitarian sacrifice becoming more morally permissible?"
Cognition, 170:95-101

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.A central tenet of contemporary moral psychology is that people typically reject active forms of utilitarian sacrifice. Yet, evidence for secularization and declining empathic concern in recent decades suggests the possibility of systematic change in this attitude. In the present study, we employ hypothetical dilemmas to investigate whether judgments of utilitarian sacrifice are becoming more permissive over time. In a cross-sectional design, age negatively predicted utilitarian moral judgment (Study 1). To examine whether this pattern reflected processes of maturation, we asked a panel to re-evaluate several moral dilemmas after an eight-year interval but observed no overall change (Study 2). In contrast, a more recent age-matched sample revealed greater endorsement of utilitarian sacrifice in a time-lag design (Study 3). Taken together, these results suggest that today’s younger cohorts increasingly endorse a utilitarian resolution of sacrificial moral dilemmas.


Dalise S, Cavalli L, Ghuman H, Wahlberg B, Gerwig M, Chisari C, Ambrosio F

"Biological effects of dosing aerobic exercise and neuromuscular electrical stimulation in rats."
Scientific Reports, 7:10830

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.Aerobic exercise (AE) and non-aerobic neuromuscular electric stimulation (NMES) are common interventions used in physical therapy. We explored the dose-dependency (low, medium, high) of these interventions on biochemical factors, such as brain derived neurotrophic growth factor (BDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and Klotho, in the blood and brain of normal rats, as well as a treadmill-based maximum capacity test (MCT). A medium dose of AE produced the most improvement in MCT with dose-dependent changes in Klotho in the blood. A dose-dependent increase of BDNF was evident following completion of an NMES protocol, but there was no improvement in MCT performance. Gene expression in the hippocampus was increased after both AE and NMES, with IGF-1 being a signaling molecule that correlated with MCT performance in the AE conditions, but also highly correlated with VEGF-A and Klotho. Blood Klotho levels can serve as a biomarker of therapeutic dosing of AE, whereas IGF-1 is a key molecule coupled to gene expression of other molecules in the hippocampus. This approach provides a translatable paradigm to investigate the mode and mechanism of action of interventions employed in physical therapy that can improve our understanding of how these factors change under pathological conditions.


Shen, Z., Popov, V., Delahay, A., Reder, L.

"Item strength affect working memory capacity"
Memory & Cognition, Advance Online Publication:1-12

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.We show that working memory capacity is greater for items that are more familiar. Because of that, it is easier to solve algebraic equations when the variables are more familiar symbols.


Gregory Rompala, Gregg E. Homanics, Nicholas Zezza

"Cross-generational effects of alcohol dependence in humans on HRAS and TP53 methylation in offspring"
Epigenomics, 9:1189-1203

Mouse over here for a brief summary or click to open article in a new tab.We hypothesized that cross-generational effects of alcohol exposure could alter DNA methylation and expression of the HRAS oncogene and the TP53 tumor suppressor genes that drive cancer development. DNA obtained from young participants (mean age of 13.4 years) revealed methylation changes suggesting that parental and grandparental exposure to alcohol can have enduring epigenetic effects that drive cancer development in the next generation. Further work is needed to determine if these changes result in increased incidence of cancers in offspring with excessive alcohol exposure in parents and grandparents.

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