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  • Sleep homeostasis, habits and habituation.

    6 December 2017

    The importance of sleep for behavioural performance during waking is long-established, but the underlying reasons and mechanisms remain elusive. Waking and sleep are associated with changes in the levels of GluA1 AMPAR subunit in synaptic membranes, while studies using genetically-modified mice have identified an important role for GluA1-dependent synaptic plasticity in a non-associative form of memory that underlies short-term habituation to recently experienced stimuli. Here we posit that sleep may play a role in dishabituation, which restores attentional capacity and maximises the readiness of the animal for learning and goal-directed behaviour during subsequent wakefulness. Furthermore we suggest that sleep disturbance may fundamentally change the nature of behaviour, making it more model-free and habitual as a result of reduced attentional capacity.

  • Measuring Sleep in the Intensive Care Unit: A Critical Appraisal of the Use of Subjective Methods.

    12 February 2018

    OBJECTIVES: To collate and appraise the use of subjective measures to assess sleep in the intensive care unit (ICU). DESIGN: A systematic search and critical review of the published literature. DATA SOURCES: Medline, Scopus, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature were searched using combinations of the key words "Sleep," "Critical Care," "Intensive Care," and "Sleep Disorders," and this was complemented by hand searching the most recent systematic reviews on related topics. STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Papers were limited to non-gray English-language studies of the adult population, published in the last 10 years. OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcomes were the number and categorization of quantitative studies reporting measures of sleep, the number of participants for each data collection method, and a synthesis of related material to appraise the use of survey tools commonly used for sleep measurement in the ICU. RESULTS: Thirty-eight papers reported quantitative empirical data collection on sleep, 17 of which used a primary method of subjective assessment of sleep by the patient or nurse. Thirteen methods of subjective sleep assessment were identified. Many of these tools lacked validity and reliability testing. CONCLUSIONS: Research using questionnaires to assess sleep is commonplace in light of practical barriers to polysomnography or other measures of sleep. A methodologically sound approach to tool development and testing is crucial to gather meaningful data, and this robust approach was lacking in many cases. Further research measuring sleep subjectively in ICU should use the Richards Campbell Sleep Questionnaire, and researchers should maintain a commitment to transparency in describing methods.

  • Investigations into within- and between-subject resting-state amplitude variations.

    12 December 2017

    The amplitudes of spontaneous fluctuations in brain activity may be a significant source of within-subject and between-subject variability, and this variability is likely to be carried through into functional connectivity (FC) estimates (whether directly or indirectly). Therefore, improving our understanding of amplitude fluctuations over the course of a resting state scan and variation in amplitude across individuals is of great relevance to the interpretation of FC findings. We investigate resting state amplitudes in two large-scale studies (HCP and UK Biobank), with the aim of determining between-subject and within-subject variability. Between-subject clustering distinguished between two groups of brain networks whose amplitude variation across subjects were highly correlated with each other, revealing a clear distinction between primary sensory and motor regions ('primary sensory/motor cluster') and cognitive networks. Within subjects, all networks in the primary sensory/motor cluster showed a consistent increase in amplitudes from the start to the end of the scan. In addition to the strong increases in primary sensory/motor amplitude, a large number of changes in FC were found when comparing the two scans acquired on the same day (HCP data). Additive signal change analysis confirmed that all of the observed FC changes could be fully explained by changes in amplitude. Between-subject correlations in UK Biobank data showed a negative correlation between primary sensory/motor amplitude and average sleep duration, suggesting a role of arousal. Our findings additionally reveal complex relationships between amplitude and head motion. These results suggest that network amplitude is a source of significant variability both across subjects, and within subjects on a within-session timescale. Future rfMRI studies may benefit from obtaining arousal-related (self report) measures, and may wish to consider the influence of amplitude changes on measures of (dynamic) functional connectivity.

  • Persistent microglial activation and synaptic loss with behavioral abnormalities in mouse offspring exposed to CASPR2-antibodies in utero.

    21 February 2018

    Gestational transfer of maternal antibodies against fetal neuronal proteins may be relevant to some neurodevelopmental disorders, but until recently there were no proteins identified. We recently reported a fivefold increase in CASPR2-antibodies in mid-gestation sera from mothers of children with intellectual and motor disabilities. Here, we exposed mice in utero to purified IgG from patients with CASPR2-antibodies (CASPR2-IgGs) or from healthy controls (HC-IgGs). CASPR2-IgG but not HC-IgG bound to fetal brain parenchyma, from which CASPR2-antibodies could be eluted. CASPR2-IgG exposed neonates achieved milestones similarly to HC-IgG exposed controls but, when adult, the CASPR2-IgG exposed progeny showed marked social interaction deficits, abnormally located glutamatergic neurons in layers V-VI of the somatosensory cortex, a 16% increase in activated microglia, and a 15-52% decrease in glutamatergic synapses in layers of the prefrontal and somatosensory cortices. Thus, in utero exposure to CASPR2-antibodies led to permanent behavioral, cellular, and synaptic abnormalities. These findings support a pathogenic role for maternal antibodies in human neurodevelopmental conditions, and CASPR2 as a potential target.

  • Biochemical and genetic predictors and correlates of response to lamotrigine and folic acid in bipolar depression: Analysis of the CEQUEL clinical trial.

    18 December 2017

    OBJECTIVES: CEQUEL (Comparative Evaluation of QUEtiapine plus Lamotrigine combination versus quetiapine monotherapy [and folic acid versus placebo] in bipolar depression) was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel group, 2×2 factorial trial that examined the effect of adding lamotrigine and/or folic acid (FA) to quetiapine in bipolar depression. Lamotrigine improved depression, but its effectiveness was reduced by FA. We investigated the baseline predictors and correlates of clinical response, and the possible basis of the interaction. METHODS: The main outcome was change in depressive symptoms at 12 weeks, measured using the Quick Inventory for Depressive Symptoms-self report version 16 (QIDS-SR16). We examined the relationship between symptoms and lamotrigine levels, and biochemical measures of one-carbon metabolism and functional polymorphisms in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and folate hydrolase 1 (FOLH1). RESULTS: Lamotrigine levels were unaffected by FA and did not differ between those participants who achieved remission and those with persisting symptoms. When participants with subtherapeutic serum levels were excluded, there was a main effect of lamotrigine on the main outcome, although this remained limited to those randomized to FA placebo. None of the biochemical measures correlated with clinical outcome. The negative impact of FA on lamotrigine response was limited to COMT Met carriers. FOLH1 and MTHFR had no effect. CONCLUSIONS: Our results clarify that FA's inhibition of lamotrigine's efficacy is not a pharmacokinetic effect, and that low serum lamotrigine levels contributed to lamotrigine's lack of a main effect at 12 weeks. We were unable to explain the lamotrigine-FA interaction, but our finding that it is modulated by the COMT genotype provides a starting point for follow-on neurobiological investigations. More broadly, our results highlight the value of including biochemical and genetic indices in randomized clinical trials.

  • The heritability of multi-modal connectivity in human brain activity.

    25 December 2017

    Patterns of intrinsic human brain activity exhibit a profile of functional connectivity that is associated with behaviour and cognitive performance, and deteriorates with disease. This paper investigates the relative importance of genetic factors and the common environment between twins in determining this functional connectivity profile. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on 820 subjects from the Human Connectome Project, and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recordings from a subset, the heritability of connectivity among 39 cortical regions was estimated. On average over all connections, genes account for about 15% of the observed variance in fMRI connectivity (and about 10% in alpha-band and 20% in beta-band oscillatory power synchronisation), which substantially exceeds the contribution from the environment shared between twins. Therefore, insofar as twins share a common upbringing, it appears that genes, rather than the developmental environment, have the dominant role in determining the coupling of neuronal activity.

  • Discovering dynamic brain networks from big data in rest and task.

    5 February 2018

    Brain activity is a dynamic combination of the responses to sensory inputs and its own spontaneous processing. Consequently, such brain activity is continuously changing whether or not one is focusing on an externally imposed task. Previously, we have introduced an analysis method that allows us, using Hidden Markov Models (HMM), to model task or rest brain activity as a dynamic sequence of distinct brain networks, overcoming many of the limitations posed by sliding window approaches. Here, we present an advance that enables the HMM to handle very large amounts of data, making possible the inference of very reproducible and interpretable dynamic brain networks in a range of different datasets, including task, rest, MEG and fMRI, with potentially thousands of subjects. We anticipate that the generation of large and publicly available datasets from initiatives such as the Human Connectome Project and UK Biobank, in combination with computational methods that can work at this scale, will bring a breakthrough in our understanding of brain function in both health and disease.

  • Breathlessness and the body: Neuroimaging clues for the inferential leap

    30 November 2017

    © 2017 The Author(s) Breathlessness debilitates millions of people with chronic illness. Mismatch between breathlessness severity and objective disease markers is common and poorly understood. Traditionally, sensory perception was conceptualised as a stimulus-response relationship, although this cannot explain how conditioned symptoms may occur in the absence of physiological signals from the lungs or airways. A Bayesian model is now proposed, in which the brain generates sensations based on expectations learnt from past experiences (priors), which are then checked against incoming afferent signals. In this model, psychological factors may act as moderators. They may alter priors, change the relative attention towards incoming sensory information, or alter comparisons between priors and sensations, leading to more variable interpretation of an equivalent afferent input. In the present study we conducted a supplementary analysis of previously published data (Hayen et al., 2017). We hypothesised that individual differences in psychological traits (anxiety, depression, anxiety sensitivity) would correlate with the variability of subjective perceptions of equivalent breathlessness challenges. To better understand the resulting inferential leap in the brain, we explored where these behavioural measures correlated with functional brain activity across subjects. Behaviourally, anxiety sensitivity was found to positively correlate with each subject's variability of intensity and unpleasantness during mild breathlessness, and with variability of unpleasantness during strong breathlessness. In the brain, anxiety sensitivity was found to negatively correlate with precuneus activity during anticipation, positively correlate with anterior insula activity during mild breathlessness, and negatively correlate with parietal sensorimotor areas during strong breathlessness. Our findings suggest that anxiety sensitivity may reduce the robustness of this Bayesian sensory perception system, increasing the variability of breathlessness perception and possibly susceptibility to symptom misinterpretation. These preliminary findings in healthy individuals demonstrate how differences in psychological function influence the way we experience bodily sensations, which might direct us towards better understanding of symptom mismatch in clinical populations.