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  • Visual Experiences during Paralysis.

    22 November 2017

    RATIONALE: Paralyzed human volunteers (n = 6) participated in several studies the primary one of which required full neuromuscular paralysis while awake. After the primary experiment, while still paralyzed and awake, subjects undertook studies of humor and of attempted eye-movement. The attempted eye-movements tested a central, intentional component to one's internal visual model and are the subject of this report. METHODS: Subjects reclined in a supportive chair and were ventilated after paralysis (cisatracurium, 20 mg intravenously). In illumination, subjects were requested to focus alternately on the faces of investigators standing on the left and the right within peripheral vision. In darkness, subjects were instructed to look away from a point source of light. Subjects were to report their experiences after reversal of paralysis. RESULTS: During attempted eye-movement in illumination, one subject had an illusion of environmental movement but four subjects perceived faces as clearly as if they were in central vision. In darkness, four subjects reported movement of the target light in the direction of attempted eye-movements and three could control the movement of the light at will. CONCLUSION: The hypothesis that internal visual models receive intended ocular-movement-information directly from oculomotor centers is strengthened by this evidence.

  • Electroencephalographic correlates of states of concentrative meditation.

    17 November 2017

    Meditative techniques aim for and meditators report states of mental alertness and focus, concurrent with physical and emotional calm. We aimed to determine the electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates of five states of Buddhist concentrative meditation, particularly addressing a correlation with meditative level. We studied 12 meditators and 12 pair-matched meditation-naïve participants using high-resolution scalp-recorded EEG. To maximise reduction of EMG, data were pre-processed using independent component analysis and surface Laplacian transformed data. Two non-meditative and five meditative states were used: resting baseline, mind-wandering, absorptions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (corresponding to four levels of absorption and an absorption with a different object of focus, otherwise equivalent to level 4; these five meditative states produce repeatable, distinctly different experiences for experienced meditators). The experimental protocol required participants to experience the states in the order listed above, followed immediately by the reverse. We then calculated EEG power in standard frequency bands from 1 to 80Hz. We observed decreases of central scalp beta (13-25Hz), and central low gamma (25-48Hz) power in meditators during deeper absorptions. In contrast, we identified increases in frontal midline and temporo-parietal theta power in meditators, again, during deeper absorptions. Alpha activity was increased over all meditative states, not depth-related. This study demonstrates that the subjective experiences of deepening meditation partially correspond to measures of EEG. Our results are in accord with prior studies on non-graded meditative states. These results are also consistent with increased theta correlating with tightness of focus, and reduced beta/gamma with the desynchronization associated with enhanced alertness.

  • Mental tasks induce gamma EEG with reduced responsiveness in primary generalized epilepsies.

    27 October 2017

    PURPOSE: We previously revealed an interictal increase in intensity of EEG rhythms during quiescent mental activity in the 30- to 100-Hz frequency (gamma) range in primary generalized epilepsy (PGE). We have evidence that there is induction of gamma EEG in normal subjects in response to controlled mental activity. Here we test whether mental tasks further augment interictal gamma oscillations in people with PGE. METHODS: We recorded interictal EEG from patients with PGE and partial epilepsy and compared EEG power spectral responses (increases over resting) during mental tasks. RESULTS: In partial epilepsy, mental tasks (except for alternating checkerboard visual stimulation) induced 1.5- to 2.5-fold increases in power of gamma EEG. In generalized epilepsy, generalized increases of 1.5-fold in gamma EEG were induced by only two mental tasks (reading and subtraction), and enhancement of 1- to 1.5-fold in the remaining six (checkerboard, expectancy, music, learning, recalling, and a video). CONCLUSIONS: Gamma EEG is less responsive to mental activation in PGE than in partial epilepsy, confirming an abnormality in gamma mechanisms in PGE. Our findings also provide a possible mechanistic link between mental activity and seizures in reading- and arithmetic-induced seizures.

  • Cortical network dynamics during verbal working memory function.

    22 November 2017

    This study is an exploratory investigation of the regional timing of cortical activity associated with verbal working memory function. ERP activity was obtained from a single subject using a 124-channel sensor array during a task requiring the monitoring of imageable words for occasional targets. Distributed cortical activity was estimated every 2.5 ms with high spatial resolution using real head, boundary element modelling of non-target activity. High-resolution structural MRI was used for segmentation of tissue boundaries and co-registration to the scalp electrode array. The inverse solution was constrained to the cortical surface. Cortical activity was observed in regions commonly associated with verbal working memory function. This included: the occipital pole (early visual processing); the superior temporal and inferior parietal gyrus bilaterally and the left angular gyrus (visual and phonological word processing); the dorsal lateral occipital gyrus (spatial processing); and aspects of the bilateral superior parietal lobe (imagery and episodic verbal memory). Activity was also observed in lateral and superior prefrontal regions associated with working memory control of sensorimotor processes. The pattern of cortical activity was relatively stable over time, with variations in the extent and amplitude of contributing local source activations. By contrast, the pattern of concomitant scalp topography varied considerably over time, reflecting the linear summation effects of volume conduction that often confound dipolar source modelling.

  • Surface Laplacian of scalp electrical signals and independent component analysis resolve EMG contamination of electroencephalogram.

    22 November 2017

    The serious impact of electromyogram (EMG) contamination of electroencephalogram (EEG) is well recognised. The objective of this research is to demonstrate that combining independent component analysis with the surface Laplacian can eliminate EMG contamination of the EEG, and to validate that this processing does not degrade expected neurogenic signals. The method involves sequential application of ICA, using a manual procedure to identify and discard EMG components, followed by the surface Laplacian. The extent of decontamination is quantified by comparing processed EEG with EMG-free data that was recorded during pharmacologically induced neuromuscular paralysis. The combination of the ICA procedure and the surface Laplacian, with a flexible spherical spline, results in a strong suppression of EMG contamination at all scalp sites and frequencies. Furthermore, the ICA and surface Laplacian procedure does not impair the detection of well-known, cerebral responses; alpha activity with eyes-closed; ERP components (N1, P2) in response to an auditory oddball task; and steady state responses to photic and auditory stimulation. Finally, more flexible spherical splines increase the suppression of EMG by the surface Laplacian. We postulate this is due to ICA enabling the removal of local muscle sources of EMG contamination and the Laplacian transform being insensitive to distant (postural) muscle EMG contamination.

  • Scalp electrical recording during paralysis: quantitative evidence that EEG frequencies above 20 Hz are contaminated by EMG.

    22 November 2017

    OBJECTIVE: To identify the possible contribution of electromyogram (EMG) to scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) rhythms at rest and induced or evoked by cognitive tasks. METHODS: Scalp EEG recordings were made on two subjects in presence and absence of complete neuromuscular blockade, sparing the dominant arm. The subjects undertook cognitive tasks in both states to allow direct comparison of electrical recordings. RESULTS: EEG rhythms in the paralysed state differed significantly compared with the unparalysed state, with 10- to 200-fold differences in the power of frequencies above 20 Hz during paralysis. CONCLUSIONS: Most of the scalp EEG recording above 20 Hz is of EMG origin. Previous studies measuring gamma EEG need to be re-evaluated. SIGNIFICANCE: This has a significant impact on measurements of gamma rhythms from the scalp EEG in unparalysed humans. It is to be hoped that signal separation methods will be able to rectify this situation.

  • Cognitive tasks augment gamma EEG power.

    22 November 2017

    OBJECTIVE: Gamma EEG oscillations are low amplitude rhythms in the 30-100 Hz range that correlate with cognitive task execution. They are usually reported using time-locked averaging of EEG during repetitive tasks. We tested the hypothesis that continuous gamma EEG would be measurable during mental tasks. METHODS: We investigated sustained human gamma EEG oscillations induced by 8 cognitive tasks (Visual Checkerboard, Expectancy, Reading, Subtraction, Music, Expectancy, Word learning, Word recall, and a Video Segment) in 20 subjects using standard digital EEG recording and power spectral analysis. RESULTS: All of the cognitive tasks augmented gamma power relative to a control condition (eyes open watching a blank computer screen). This enhancement was statistically significant at more than one scalp site for all tasks except checkerboard. The Expectancy, Learning, Reading and Subtraction tasks expressed the most impressive gamma response, up to 5 fold above the control condition and there was some task-related specificity of the distribution of increased gamma power, especially in posterior cortex with visual tasks. CONCLUSIONS: Widespread gamma activation of cortical EEG can easily be demonstrated during mental activity. SIGNIFICANCE: These results establish the feasibility of measuring high frequency EEG rhythms with trans-cranial recordings, demonstrate that sustained gamma EEG activity correlates with mentation, and provides evidence consistent with the temporal binding model.

  • Measurement of neural signals from inexpensive, wireless and dry EEG systems.

    27 October 2017

    Electroencephalography (EEG) is challenged by high cost, immobility of equipment and the use of inconvenient conductive gels. We compared EEG recordings obtained from three systems that are inexpensive, wireless, and/or dry (no gel), against recordings made with a traditional, research-grade EEG system, in order to investigate the ability of these 'non-traditional' systems to produce recordings of comparable quality to a research-grade system. The systems compared were: Emotiv EPOC (inexpensive and wireless), B-Alert (wireless), g.Sahara (dry) and g.HIamp (research-grade). We compared the ability of the systems to demonstrate five well-studied neural phenomena: (1) enhanced alpha activity with eyes closed versus open; (2) visual steady-state response (VSSR); (3) mismatch negativity; (4) P300; and (5) event-related desynchronization/synchronization. All systems measured significant alpha augmentation with eye closure, and were able to measure VSSRs (although these were smaller with g.Sahara). The B-Alert and g.Sahara were able to measure the three time-locked phenomena equivalently to the g.HIamp. The Emotiv EPOC did not have suitably located electrodes for two of the tasks and synchronization considerations meant that data from the time-locked tasks were not assessed. The results show that inexpensive, wireless, or dry systems may be suitable for experimental studies using EEG, depending on the research paradigm, and within the constraints imposed by their limited electrode placement and number.

  • Effects of anesthetic agents on seizure-induction with intra-cortical injection of convulsants.

    27 October 2017

    RATIONALE: Studies of partial or generalized seizure pathophysiology often require the use of intact animals. Additionally, anesthesia may be required for ethical reasons or paralysis if instrumental measures require immobilization. We examined three commonly used injected anesthetic for their impact on seizures induced by three convulsant agents. METHODS: We prepared rats, under pentobarbitone anesthesia (65 mg/kg) with a catheter, electrodes and a dural window, for later non-noxious experimentation. Three to seven days later, kainic acid (1.25 μg), picrotoxin (225 ng) or fluorocitrate (0.8 nmol) were injected intra-cortically in animals paralysed with succinylcholine, or anesthetised with pentobarbitone, urethane or fentanyl plus droperidol. We recorded EEG activity, the latencies to seizure discharges, the occurrence of spreading depressions and the presence of movements in response to the convulsants. RESULTS: Fentanyl plus droperidol was the only anesthetic agent permissive for seizure-discharges and spreading depressions. No significant differences in the time for seizure onset for fentanyl plus droperidol compared to paralyzed unanesthetised rats were seen for any of the convulsants (Student's t-test p>0.20). Movements during seizures as well as other drug-induced behaviors continued to be expressed during anesthesia. CONCLUSION: Fentanyl plus droperidol has useful properties as an anesthetic agent in studies of seizure induction with different convulsants.

  • Relation of gamma oscillations in scalp recordings to muscular activity.

    22 November 2017

    We recorded scalp electrical activity before and after full neuro-muscular paralysis in 5 volunteers and determined differences due to elimination of muscular activity on several standard applications of EEG. Due to paralysis, there were reductions in 'noisiness' of the standard scalp recordings which were maximal over the peripheral scalp, not explained by abolition of movement artefact, and best accounted for by sustained EMG activity in resting individuals. There was a corresponding reduction in spectral power in the gamma range. In central leads, the extent of gamma frequency coherence during a non-time-locked mental task (1 s epochs) was reduced by paralysis, likely due to a reduction in gamma-frequency coherence in widely arising EMG signals. In a time-locked mental task (auditory oddball), evoked responses were qualitatively unaffected by paralysis but 3 of 4 induced gamma responses were obscured by EMG.

  • Neuro-Endocrinology Research Group

    11 February 2016

    DCN

    This cross-disciplinary research group links neuropathology, endocrinology and molecular genetics to explore how the genetics and epigenetics of pituitary tumours influences clinical characteristics and to identify targets for therapeutic intervention.

  • Large Artery Disease

    26 August 2016

    CPSD

    CPSD runs several research studies looking into the causes, investigation, and management of large artery atherosclerosis, carotid stenosis, vertebral artery disease and intracranial atherosclerosis.

  • Oxford Vascular Study

    26 August 2016

    CPSD

    The Oxford Vascular Study (OxVasc) investigates vascular diseases (e.g. strokes, heart attacks) in patients registered with eight general practices in Oxfordshire. We run a rapid-access clinic for patients with suspected Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIAs) or minor strokes.

  • OPTIMA

    26 August 2016

    CPSD

    The Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) started in 1988 and the last LEAD participants were seen in March 2015. We are no longer recruiting to any of the cohorts. However, we are currently creating the OPTIMA Legacy Resource from which data collected from the OPTIMA cohorts is available and samples are biobanked and available. Brain tissue is available as part of the Brains For Dementia Research (BDR) collection.

  • Models of Brain Decision Networks

    21 July 2014

    DCN

    Our group uses computer simulations and mathematical analyses to understand the information processing and activity dynamics of brain networks underlying decision making. We use these models to investigate how neural circuits work in the healthy state, how their dynamics deteriorate in neurological disorders, and how their dynamics and information processing may be best restored by treatments.

  • Congenital Myasthenia Service

    15 January 2013

    DCN

    We provide a nationally commissioned specialised service for the diagnosis and management of children and adults in whom a congenital myasthenic syndrome is suspected.

  • Breathe Oxford

    13 May 2014

    NDA