The D'Esposito Lab is a cognitive neuroscience research laboratory within the
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
and the Department of Psychology.

Recent Publications

Haight, T, Nick Bryan R, Erus G, Hsieh M-K, Davatzikos C, Nasrallah I, D'Esposito M, Jacobs DR, Lewis C, Schreiner P, Sidney S, Meirelles O, Launer LJ.  2018.  White matter microstructure, white matter lesions, and hypertension: An examination of early surrogate markers of vascular-related brain change in midlife., 2018. NeuroImage. Clinical. 18:753-761. Abstract

We examined imaging surrogates of white matter microstructural abnormalities which may precede white matter lesions (WML) and represent a relevant marker of cerebrovascular injury in adults in midlife.

Tambini, A, Nee DE, D'Esposito M.  2018.  Hippocampal-targeted Theta-burst Stimulation Enhances Associative Memory Formation., 2018 Jun 19. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. :1-21. Abstract

The hippocampus plays a critical role in episodic memory, among other cognitive functions. However, few tools exist to causally manipulate hippocampal function in healthy human participants. Recent work has targeted hippocampal-cortical networks by performing TMS to a region interconnected with the hippocampus, posterior inferior parietal cortex (pIPC). Such hippocampal-targeted TMS enhances associative memory and influences hippocampal functional connectivity. However, it is currently unknown which stages of mnemonic processing (encoding or retrieval) are affected by hippocampal-targeted TMS. Here, we examined whether hippocampal-targeted TMS influences the initial encoding of associations (vs. items) into memory. To selectively influence encoding and not retrieval, we performed continuous theta-burst TMS before participants encoded object-location associations and assessed memory after the direct effect of stimulation dissipated. Relative to control TMS and baseline memory, pIPC TMS enhanced associative memory success and confidence. Item memory was unaffected, demonstrating a selective influence on associative versus item memory. The strength of hippocampal-pIPC functional connectivity predicted TMS-related memory benefits, which was mediated by parahippocampal and retrosplenial cortices. Our findings indicate that hippocampal-targeted TMS can specifically modulate the encoding of new associations into memory without directly influencing retrieval processes and suggest that the ability to influence associative memory may be related to the fidelity of hippocampal TMS targeting. Our results support the notion that pIPC TMS may serve as a potential tool for manipulating hippocampal function in healthy participants. Nonetheless, future work combining hippocampal-targeted continuous theta-burst TMS with neuroimaging is needed to better understand the neural basis of TMS-induced memory changes.

Cameron, IGM, Wallace DL, Al-Zughoul A, Kayser AS, D'Esposito M.  2018.  Effects of tolcapone and bromocriptine on cognitive stability and flexibility., 2018 Feb 09. Psychopharmacology. Abstract

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) and basal ganglia (BG) have been associated with cognitive stability and cognitive flexibility, respectively. We hypothesized that increasing PFC dopamine tone by administering tolcapone (a catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor) to human subjects should promote stability; conversely, increasing BG dopamine tone by administering bromocriptine (a D2 receptor agonist) should promote flexibility.

Scimeca, JM, Kiyonaga A, D'Esposito M.  2018.  Reaffirming the Sensory Recruitment Account of Working Memory., 2018 Mar. Trends in cognitive sciences. 22(3):190-192.
Novakovic-Agopian, T, Kornblith ES, Abrams G, Burciaga-Rosales J, Loya F, D'Esposito M, Chen AJ-W.  2018.  Training in Goal-Oriented Attentional Self-Regulation Improves Executive Functioning in Veterans with Chronic TBI., 2018 May 02. Journal of neurotrauma. Abstract

Deficits in executive control functions are some of the most common and disabling consequences of both military and civilian brain injury. However, effective interventions are scant. The goal of this study was to assess whether cognitive rehabilitation training that was successfully applied in chronic civilian brain injury would be effective for military Veterans with TBI. In a prior study, participants with chronic acquired brain injury significantly improved after training in goal-oriented attentional self-regulation (GOALS) on measures of attention/executive function, functional task performance, and goal-directed control over neural processing on fMRI. The objective of this study was to assess effects of GOALS training in Veterans with chronic TBI. 33 Veterans with chronic TBI and executive difficulties in their daily life completed either five weeks of manualized Goal-Oriented Attentional Self-Regulation (GOALS) training or Brain-Health Education (BHE) matched in time and intensity. Evaluator-blinded assessments at baseline and post training included neuropsychological and complex functional task performance and self-report measures of emotional regulation. After GOALS, but not BHE training, participants significantly improved from baseline on primary outcome measures of: Overall Complex Attention/Executive Function composite neuropsychological performance score [F = 7.10, p =.01; partial 2 = .19], and on overall complex functional task performance (Goal Processing Scale Overall Performance) [F=6.92, p=.01, partial 2 =.20]. Additionally, post-GOALS participants indicated significant improvement on emotional regulation self-report measures [POMS Confusion Score F=6.05, p=.02, partial2=.20]. Training in attentional self-regulation applied to participant defined goals may improve cognitive functioning in Veterans with chronic TBI. Attention regulation training may not only impact executive control functioning in real world complex tasks, but may also improve emotional regulation and functioning. Implications for treatment of Veterans with TBI are discussed.