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  • The acute effects of MDMA and ethanol administration on electrophysiological correlates of performance monitoring in healthy volunteers.

    27 October 2017

    RATIONALE: Knowing how commonly used drugs affect performance monitoring is of great importance, because drug use is often associated with compromised behavioral control. Two of the most commonly used recreational drugs in the western world, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "ecstasy") and ethanol (alcohol), are also often used in combination. The error-related negativity (ERN), correct-related negativity (CRN), and N2 are electrophysiological indices of performance monitoring. OBJECTIVES: The present study aimed to investigate how ethanol, MDMA, and their co-administration affect performance monitoring as indexed by the electrophysiological correlates. METHODS: Behavioral and EEG data were obtained from 14 healthy volunteers during execution of a speeded choice-reaction-time task after administration of ethanol, MDMA, and combined ethanol and MDMA, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover design. RESULTS: Ethanol significantly reduced ERN amplitudes, while administration of MDMA did not affect the ERN. Co-administration of MDMA and ethanol did not further impair nor ameliorate the effect of ethanol alone. No drug effects on CRN nor N2 were observed. DISCUSSION: A decreased ERN following ethanol administration is in line with previous work and offers further support for the impairing effects of alcohol intoxication on performance monitoring. This impairment may underlie maladaptive behavior in people who are under influence. Moreover, these data demonstrate for the first time that MDMA does not affect performance monitoring nor does it interact with ethanol in this process. These findings corroborate the notion that MDMA leaves central executive functions relatively unaffected.

  • Long-term effects of left frontal rTMS on EEG and ERPs in patients with depression.

    27 October 2017

    Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment for depression has been under investigation in many controlled studies over the last 20 years. Little is known about the neurobiological action of rTMS in patients. We therefore investigated pre- and post-treatment effects on QEEG, ERP's and behavior (BDI and NEO-FFI). rTMS treatment was applied in 8 subjects for an average of 21 sessions to the left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (left DLPFC). Clients were assessed on a QEEG and Oddball ERP evaluation pre- and post-treatment. Clients were stimulated over the left DLPFC with 10 Hz rTMS (100% MT). Furthermore, rTMS treatment was complimented by psychotherapy. All subjects showed full remission within 20 sessions and there was a significant reduction in depressive symptomatology (BDI score) after 10 and 15 sessions and a clear decrease in the Neuroticism and an increase on the extraversion scale of the NEO-FFI personality questionnaire. Pre- and post-QEEG measurements did not reveal treatment specific effects, but only an indirect right frontal increase in delta power. On the other hand, ERP measures did reveal treatment specific effects by showing an increased positivity in the post-treatment ERP's specifically left frontal. The P2 amplitude demonstrated a significant left frontal increase in amplitude, whereas for the negative N1 and N2 a significant decrease in amplitude was observed. The results of this pilot study demonstrate that rTMS can be a safe and efficacious treatment modality for depression. Furthermore, a specific left frontal increase in positivity for the ERP's was found (increased P2 and decreased N1 and N2 components) most likely related to the rTMS over the left DLPFC. Furthermore, there was no change in the alpha asymmetry lending support to the fact that frontal alpha asymmetry can be considered a trait marker for depression. The findings from this pilot study require future replication with larger sample sizes.

  • DBH -1021C>T and COMT Val108/158Met genotype are not associated with the P300 ERP in an auditory oddball task.

    27 October 2017

    OBJECTIVE: The amplitude and latency of the P300 may be associated by variations in dopaminergic genes. The current study was conducted to determine whether functional variants of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) gene were associated with P300 amplitude and latency in an auditory oddball task. METHODS: The P300 ERP was assessed by a two-tone auditory oddball paradigm in a large sample of 320 healthy volunteers. The Val108/158Met polymorphism (rs4680) of the COMT gene and the -1021C>T polymorphism (rs1611115) of the DBH gene were genotyped. P300 amplitude and latency were compared across genotype groups using analysis of variance. RESULTS: There were no differences in demographic characteristics in subjects for genotypic subgroups. No genotype associations were observed for the P300 amplitude and latency on frontal, central and parietal electrode positions. CONCLUSIONS: COMT Val108/158Met and DBH -1021C>T polymorphisms do not show evidence of association with characteristics of the P300 ERP in an auditory oddball paradigm in healthy volunteers. SIGNIFICANCE: We failed to find evidence for the association between dopaminergic enzymatic polymorphisms and the P300 ERP in healthy volunteers, in the largest study undertaken to date.

  • Psychedelic symptoms of cannabis and cocaine use as a function of trait impulsivity.

    27 October 2017

    Trait impulsivity has been linked to addiction in humans. It has been suggested that drug users with high trait impulsivity levels are more sensitive to subjective drug intoxication. This study assessed whether subjective response to drugs differs between drug users with normal or high levels of trait impulsivity. Regular drug users (N = 122) received doses of cocaine HCl, cannabis, and placebo in a three-way crossover study. Their mood, dissociative state, and psychedelic symptoms were measured with subjective rating scales (CADDS, Bowdle, POMS). Trait impulsivity was assessed with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Cannabis increased dissociation and psychedelic state, as well as fatigue, confusion, depression and anxiety, and decreased arousal, positive mood, vigor, friendliness, and elation. Cocaine increased dissociation, psychedelic state, vigor, friendliness, elation, positive mood, anxiety and arousal, while decreasing fatigue. Only a few subjective items revealed a drug × trait impulsivity interaction, suggesting that psychedelic symptoms were most intense in high impulsivity subjects. Trait impulsiveness ratings were negatively correlated with ratings of vigor (r = -.197) and positively correlated with ratings of loss of thought control (r = .237) during cannabis intoxication. It is concluded that a broad association between trait impulsivity and psychedelic subjective drug experience appears to be absent.

  • An investigation of EEG, genetic and cognitive markers of treatment response to antidepressant medication in patients with major depressive disorder: a pilot study.

    17 November 2017

    The aim of this study was to investigate if biomarkers in QEEG, genetic and neuropsychological measures are suitable for the prediction of antidepressant treatment outcome in depression. Twenty-five patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder were assessed twice, pretreatment and at 8-wk follow-up, on a variety of QEEG and neuropsychological tasks. Additionally, cheek swab samples were collected to assess genetic predictors of treatment outcome. The primary outcome measure was the absolute decrease on the HAM-D rating scale. Regression models were built in order to investigate which markers contribute most to the decrease in absolute HAM-D scores. Patients who had a better clinical outcome were characterized by a decrease in the amplitude of the Auditory Oddball N1 at baseline. The 'Met/Met' variant of the COMT gene was the best genetic predictor of treatment outcome. Impaired verbal memory performance was the best cognitive predictor. Raised frontal Theta power was the best EEG predictor of change in HAM-D scores. A tentative integrative model showed that a combination of N1 amplitude at Pz and verbal memory performance accounted for the largest part of the explained variance. These markers may serve as new biomarkers suitable for the prediction of antidepressant treatment outcome.

  • MDMA, cannabis, and cocaine produce acute dissociative symptoms.

    27 October 2017

    Some drugs of abuse may produce dissociative symptoms, but this aspect has been understudied. We explored the dissociative potential of three recreational drugs (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), cannabis, and cocaine) during intoxication and compared their effects to literature reports of dissociative states in various samples. Two placebo-controlled studies were conducted. In Study 1 (N=16), participants received single doses of 25, 50, and 100 mg of MDMA, and placebo. In Study 2 (N=21), cannabis (THC 300 µg/kg), cocaine (HCl 300 mg), and placebo were administered. Dissociative symptoms as measured with the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale (CADSS) significantly increased under the influence of MDMA and cannabis. To a lesser extent, this was also true for cocaine. Dissociative symptoms following MDMA and cannabis largely exceeded those observed in schizophrenia patients, were comparable with those observed in Special Forces soldiers undergoing survival training, but were lower compared with ketamine-induced dissociation. Cocaine produced dissociative symptoms that were comparable with those observed in schizophrenia patients, but markedly less than those in Special Forces soldiers and ketamine users. Thus, MDMA and cannabis can produce dissociative symptoms that resemble dissociative pathology. The study of drug induced dissociation is important, because it may shed light on the mechanisms involved in dissociative psychopathology.

  • The increase in theta/beta ratio on resting-state EEG in boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is mediated by slow alpha peak frequency.

    17 November 2017

    Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was found to be characterized by a deviant pattern of electrocortical activity during resting state, particularly increased theta and decreased beta activity. The first objective of the present study is to confirm whether individuals with slow alpha peak frequency contribute to the finding of increased theta activity in ADHD. The second objective is to explore the relation between resting-state brain oscillations and specific cognitive functions. From 49 boys with ADHD and 49 healthy control boys, resting-state EEG during eyes open and eyes closed was recorded, and a variety of cognitive tasks were administered. Theta and beta power and theta/beta ratio were calculated using both fixed frequency bands and individualized frequency bands. As expected, theta/beta ratio, calculated using fixed frequency bands, was significantly higher in ADHD children than control children. However, this group effect was not significant when theta/beta ratio was assessed using individualized frequency bands. No consistent relation was found between resting-state brain oscillations and cognition. The present results suggest that previous findings of increased theta/beta ratio in ADHD may reflect individuals with slow alpha peak frequencies in addition to individuals with true increased theta activity. Therefore, the often reported theta/beta ratio in ADHD can be considered a non-specific measure combining several distinct neurophysiological subgroups such as frontal theta and slowed alpha peak frequencies. Future research should elucidate the functional role of resting-state brain oscillations by investigating neurophysiological subgroups, which may have a clearer relation to cognitive functions than single frequency bands.

  • MDMA, cannabis, and cocaine produce acute dissociative symptoms

    27 October 2017

    © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Some drugs of abuse may produce dissociative symptoms, but this aspect has been understudied. We explored the dissociative potential of three recreational drugs (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), cannabis, and cocaine) during intoxication and compared their effects to literature reports of dissociative states in various samples. Two placebo-controlled studies were conducted. In Study 1 (N=16), participants received single doses of 25, 50, and 100. mg of MDMA, and placebo. In Study 2 (N=21), cannabis (THC 300. μg/kg), cocaine (HCl 300. mg), and placebo were administered. Dissociative symptoms as measured with the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale (CADSS) significantly increased under the influence of MDMA and cannabis. To a lesser extent, this was also true for cocaine. Dissociative symptoms following MDMA and cannabis largely exceeded those observed in schizophrenia patients, were comparable with those observed in Special Forces soldiers undergoing survival training, but were lower compared with ketamine-induced dissociation. Cocaine produced dissociative symptoms that were comparable with those observed in schizophrenia patients, but markedly less than those in Special Forces soldiers and ketamine users. Thus, MDMA and cannabis can produce dissociative symptoms that resemble dissociative pathology. The study of drug induced dissociation is important, because it may shed light on the mechanisms involved in dissociative psychopathology.

  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Depression. Protocols, Mechanisms, and New Developments

    27 October 2017

    This chapter examines the TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), which is a non-invasive neuromodulation technique. It has a very direct influence on brain physiology. The basic principle of TMS is the application of short magnetic pulses over the scalp of a subject with the aim of inducing electrical currents in the neurons of the cortex. A typical TMS device consists of a stimulator that can generate a strong electrical current, and a coil in which the fluctuating electrical current generates magnetic pulses. If the magnetic pulses are delivered in the proximity of a conductive medium, e.g. the brain, a secondary current in the conductive material is induced. In the practice of TMS, a subject is seated in a chair and an operator positions the coil above the scalp of the subject, tunes the stimulation parameters of the stimulator, and applies the TMS pulses. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.