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  • Open access
  • 73 Reads
The effect of piano playing experience on tapping synchronization to different sensory modalities

Previous studies have demonstrated that tapping synchronization is more accurate in the auditory than visual modality in the experienced piano players. In addition, they synchronize their finger taps with stimuli remarkably better than the novice especially when the ring or little finger is used. However, it is currently unclear whether or not piano playing experience would affect the ability to synchronize with visual or auditory stimuli presented by an electronic metronome, which is commonly used in piano lessons. In this study, seven piano players and seven novices synchronized their finger taps with visual, auditory, or visual-auditory metronomes at 1 Hz. Tapping was performed with the index or ring finger on a force transducer. We recorded the applied force and acceleration of the finger movement during the task, and analyzed temporal asynchrony (TA) between tap onset and metronome onset. In the novices, TA was larger during tapping with the ring than index finger. Also, their standard deviation of TA was larger when synchronizing with visual stimuli using the ring finger as compared to the index finger. These differences were not apparent in the piano players. In both groups, the index finger acceleration was faster than that of the ring finger. Furthermore, there was a positive correlation between the acceleration and the applied force in the piano players but not in the novices. Our findings suggest that long-term piano training enhances motor control of the ring finger.

  • Open access
  • 41 Reads
Repeated bout rate enhancement of finger tapping does not occur in musicians

When tapping with the index finger at a freely chosen rate, the tapping frequency can increase during the second of two consecutive tapping bouts. This phenomenon is termed repeated bout rate enhancement (RBRE) and has been reported to occur regardless of duration of the first tapping bout or rest time between the bouts. However, it is currently unknown whether RBRE occurs in musicians who can maintain rhythmic consistency better than novices. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to investigate whether musical training would affect RBRE. We recruited eight individuals who regularly play musical instruments (musicians) and seven individuals who have never experienced musical training (novices). They performed two three-min tapping bouts separated by 10 min rest. They were instructed to tap at a preferred rate while focusing on something other than the tapping task. As a result, the tapping rate increased from 114.2 ± 57.8 taps/min to 124.7 ± 61.1 taps/min in the novices. On the other hand, there was a decrease in the tapping rate from 96.3 ± 27.9 taps/min to 91.9 ± 31.2 taps/min in musicians. RBRE is considered to occur as a consequence of increased excitability in the neuronal networks associated with the central pattern generator and/or in supraspinal centers. Therefore, our findings may imply that musical training inhibits these neural systems. Further studies are needed to reveal the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the RBRE.

  • Open access
  • 94 Reads
Compassion, Physical and Mental Health in Multiple Sclerosis Patients and Their Caregivers in Times of COVID-19: The Teruel Study
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The secondary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affects a world after one year facing adversities in a multiple mourning process due to the sudden and massive loss of human lives, confinement and physical distancing policies, and substantial socioeconomic losses. The fear of being infected, death, or the worsening of health in those already ill and their caregivers can be strong triggers of emotional distress and risk factors for mental health problems. Conversely, self-compassion skills also transcend to relationships promoting compassionate thoughts and behaviors. Compassion, recognizing the other's suffering and in response to discomfort, contributes to alleviate and create thoughts of empathy and affability for those suffering. Both constructs are in feedback in people confronting life-threatening diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but depend on many factors. The Teruel Study retrospectively evaluated the impact of strict confinement in the 44 people with MS of a Spanish province and their caregivers on 1) fears and perceptions of lockdown; 2) compassion and self-compassion; 3) factors promoting compassion, solidarity towards tragedy, understanding, empathy, and commitment to alleviate suffering; 4) physical and mental health. Despite patients considered confinement very difficult to handle, more than caregivers, they were less afraid of COVID-19 or worsening of MS. Still, they recognized their health was worse than before confinement. Reclusion and lack of walks were the worse of confinement. Caregivers also referred to lack of leisure and uncertainty-fear. All agree the best was staying with the family, but some found ‘nothing’ positive. Self-compassion of people with MS remained moderate-high. Despite perceiving their physical and emotional health at medium-moderate levels, physical and cognitive fatigue scores were high. Self-compassion correlated with fatigue and explained 19% variance of global health. Self-judgment shared humanity, isolation, and overidentification correlated with cognitive fatigue and explained 16% of global fatigue. Self-kindness and mindfulness correlated with social functioning. The high compassion of the caregivers did not correlate with any health variable nor with fatigue scales. The current times unveil the complexity and frailty of personal and familiar MS scenarios demanding stronger efforts at medical psychology and socio-sanitary levels in the new COVID-19 era.

  • Open access
  • 95 Reads
Reversal of cognitive dysfunction and oxidative brain damage induced by chronic D-gal treatment in mice by Calcium dobesilate, a vasoactive and angioprotective drug with antioxidant properties
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Calcium dobesilate (CaD) is an established vasoactive and angioprotective drug commonly used for the clinical treatment of diabetic retinopathy and chronic venous insufficiency. It has antioxidant properties and controls vascular permeability. In the current study, we explored the possible role of CaD against anxiety and cognitive dysfunction as well as against oxidative brain damage induced by D-gal treatment in mice. D-galactose (D-gal) long-term treatment in mice induces the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and is a well-accepted experimental model of oxidative stress-linked cognitive disorders in physiological aging. CaD was administered (50 and 100 mg/kg/day p.o.) in male mice treated with D-gal (500 mg/kg/day p.o.) for six weeks. Thereafter, animals were behaviorally assessed in elevated plus-maze, Y-maze, and shuttle box tests, and brains were dissected for further biochemical analysis. Results demonstrated that bodyweight loss and cognitive impairments of D-gal-treated animals were reversed by CaD administration as evaluated by the measurement of mice performance. CaD treatment also inhibited brain oxidative stress in aging mouse by decreasing malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase (CAT) enzyme activities. With the animal model's limitation, our results suggest that CaD, which is already approved for clinical use and safe, could be an interesting pharmacological tool to reduce or prevent age-related behavioral and brain oxidative stress conditions. These results could open new perspectives for the clinical use of CaD in counteracting brain oxidative stress and preventing cognitive impairment in aging.

  • Open access
  • 62 Reads
Systematic review: Antioxidant and neuroprotective capacity of species of the genus Asplenium (Monilophyta: Aspleniaceae)
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The genus Asplenium L. comprises about 700 species of terrestrial, epiphytic, and saxicolous habits distributed in temperate and tropical regions around the world, exhibiting a high chemical richness with variable biological activity. In this review, compounds with antioxidant activity that constitute a pharmacological potential in diseases of the central nervous system are detailed. Asplenium nidus L. species presents a high concentration of phenols and flavonoids evidenced by antioxidant activity assays such as DPPH, FRAP, total phenols, total flavonoids, and ORAC, and represent compounds with bioactive potential including neuroprotection. The species Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L. presents a high antioxidant potential of its rhizomes extracts exhibited in DPPH and ABTS assays, attributed to the high concentration of mangiferin; the xanthone mangiferin is a compound also present in other species of the genus such as Asplenium ceterach L.and Asplenium montanum Willd. in significant amounts. This xanthone has studies on its neuroprotective effect through different targets, some of them being the acetylcholinesterase enzymes, the 5-lipooxygenase enzyme, and the antioxidant activity itself. All these ways of action of mangiferin constitute an object of study for its effect on memory loss, which can be delayed in Alzheimer's disease.

  • Open access
  • 80 Reads
Density of SMI-32 immunopositive neurons in eye-specific layers of lateral geniculate nucleus in kittens reared with monocular deprivation and unilateral convergent squint.

The non-phosphorylated heavy neurofilament proteins, which can be labelled by SMI-32 antibodies, are characteristic for large, fast-conducting neurons. In the visual system, such properties are typical for Y-neurons. It is known that in monocularly deprived or squinting animals the Y-neurons population declines in A-layers of lateral geniculate nucleus (LGNd), connected with a deprived/squinting eye. However if this loss depends on eccentricity of the visual field projection is still not known. To study this, as well as the time course of the developmental changes, we used the frontal sections of LGNd of both hemispheres of 2- and 3- month kittens reared with monocular deprivation or unilateral convergent squint. We had developed the custom software to divide the binocular part of A-layers into 10 consecutive sectors and to calculate the number of SMI-32 immunopositive neurons in each of them. The neuronal density was calculated and compared between groups in sectors with the same eccentricity. In monocularly deprived animals, decline of the neuronal density relative to the control group was found in layers, innervated from the deprived eye in both age groups, regardless of eccentricity. However in strabismic kittens the decrease in neuronal density was revealed only in the peripheral sectors of layer A1, driven by deviated eye. The width of this area of reduced Y-neuron density was larger in 3 months kittens, indicating that the development of the disorder has not yet stabilized. The results may be interpreted as morpho-physiological correlates of different types of human amblyopia.

  • Open access
  • 89 Reads
Comparing brain responses to different styles of music through their real and imagined interpretation: an analysis based on EEG connectivity networks

The aim of this work was to assess brain responses of expert cellists during a real (INT) or imagined (IMG) interpretation of two musical styles with different learning/training cognitive roots. EEGs of 12 cellists were recorded while they interpreted (INT/IMG) previously memorized excerpts of tonal-baroque (T) and atonal-contemporary (A) music and, at rest (R). Phase synchronization functional connectivity measurements among different cortical regions were computed from the EEG data and at different frequency bands (FB). These were then thresholded using surrogate data tests. Brain network construction and graph-metric analysis was performed for each FB and condition/interpretation. Global graph-indices statistical results showed that regardless of FB: a) the node degree and density presented significant differences among-conditions T, A and R during IMG and between-interpretations with INT>IMG only for A; b) global (GE) and local (LE) normalized efficiency (vs random network), indices measuring network information exchanges, exhibited a similar small-world network structure (SW) in T, A and R during INT; however, during IMG, SW changed in T and A but due to a significant LE increase with LE(A)>LE(T)>LE(R). Statistical node topographic maps results showed significant differences for graph degree (INT>IMG) and for LE (IMG> INT) in A for certain nodes of delta and theta EEG FB networks. Styles differences appearing only during IMG (e.g., the SW) indicate that IMG requires/involves different cognitive functions/processes to those in INT. The analysis and previous results allowed the discrimination of representative musical styles from different periods which receive a different cognitive learning in the musicians’ life.

  • Open access
  • 86 Reads
Sex-dependent hepatomegaly, and increased hepatic oxidative stress in old male and female 3xTg-AD mice as compared to mice with physiological aging.

When it comes to neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one of the main causes of dementia in older people. Until now, studies have focused on the alterations that occur in the brain. However, it has been shown that in addition to the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau proteins, oxidative stress and inflammation also play a role in this disease's pathophysiology. Peripheral organs such as the liver, the main organ regulating metabolism and involved in supporting the immune system, could affect AD pathophysiological development and/or progress. We have previously described hepatic oxidative stress in 6-month-old 3xTg-AD mice, an age mimicking prodromal stages of AD-disease. In the present work, we studied the impact of AD-genotype and sex effects on liver dysfunction in 16-month-old males and females 3xTg-AD mice, an age mimicking neuropathological advanced stages of disease, and as compared to age- and sex-matched non-transgenic mice with physiological aging. The results of mass index showed hepatic damage as hepatomegaly in 3xTg-AD mice. Hepatic tissue oxidative stress, measured through antioxidant enzymes glutathione reductase (Gr) and glutathione peroxidase (Gpx), and antioxidant compound glutathione (GSH), was found increased in 3xTg-AD mice and differed according to sex. Furthermore, the correlations between the enzymes themselves and hepatic index also showed sex and genotype differences. These results indicate that liver status is affected in 3xTg-AD mice, it does in a sexually differential manner and could be favoring its progression. Further ongoing research would determine if these alterations correlate with a worse prognosis of the disease.

  • Open access
  • 69 Reads
Thigmotaxis helps to differentiate normal and pathological aging processes in a mice model for Alzheimer’s Disease.

A decline in the ability to learn and remember a spatial route often accompanies the normal aging process. Impairments in spatial orientation are also present since the early stages of disabling cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In the preclinical field, the detection of behavioral signs that help to differentiate both entities could promote a better understanding of AD instauration altogether with advances in novel treatments to ameliorate its impact. Here, the performance of 3xTg-AD mice of both sexes and their non-transgenic (NTg) (C57BL/6J) counterpart was evaluated at two-times point (12 and 16-months of age) in the Morris Water Maze test, using a modified 5-day protocol for the assessment of cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms of dementia, followed by a multiple swim pattern identification within a single trial in the test. Classical parameters showed that all animals learned the basic principles of the test more rapidly with age. Thereafter, mild variations in reference memory were detected along days at 12 months but not at 16 months. Surprisingly, 16-month-old 3xTg-AD male mice showed better results in short-term memory compared to all groups. However, when the swim pattern was visually analyzed, a persistence in thigmotaxis episodes, a non-hippocampus-associated search strategy was found in the pathological AD-like model but not in the NTg group, pointing out this pattern as a useful differentiating trait. Finally, the multiple strategies approach brings new evidence that mice can evolve from highly hippocampus-associated patterns since the earliest phases of the test.

  • Open access
  • 72 Reads
ADiag: Graph Theory and Deep Learning Based Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most widespread neurodegenerative disease, affecting over 50 million people across the world. While its progression cannot be stopped, early and accurate diagnostic testing can drastically improve quality of life in patients. Currently, only qualitative means of testing are employed in the form of scoring performance on a battery of cognitive tests. The inherent disadvantage of this method is that the burden of an accurate diagnosis falls on the clinician’s competence. Quantitative methods like MRI scan assessment are inaccurate at best, due to the elusive nature of visually observable changes in the brain. In lieu of these disadvantages to extant methods of AD diagnosis, we have developed ADiag, a novel quantitative method to diagnose AD through graph theory and deep learning based analysis of large graphs based on thickness differences between different structural regions of the cortex. ADiag is adept not only at differentiating between controls and AD patients, but also at predicting progression of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to clinical AD.

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