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Kayser, AS, D’esposito M.  2012.  Abstract Rule Learning: The Differential Effects of Lesions in Frontal Cortex., 2012 Jan 31. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). Abstract2012_kayser.pdf

Learning progressively more abstract stimulus-response mappings requires progressively more anterior regions of the lateral frontal cortex. Using an individual differences approach, we studied subjects with frontal lesions performing a hierarchical reinforcement-learning task to investigate how frontal cortex contributes to abstract rule learning. We predicted that subjects with lesions of the left pre-premotor (pre-PMd) cortex, a region implicated in abstract rule learning, would demonstrate impaired acquisition of second-order, as opposed to first-order, rules. We found that 4 subjects with such lesions did indeed demonstrate a second-order rule-learning impairment, but that these subjects nonetheless performed better than subjects with other frontal lesions in a second-order rule condition. This finding resulted from both their restricted exploration of the feature space and the task structure of this condition, for which they identified partially representative first-order rules. Significantly, across all subjects, suboptimal but above-chance performance in this condition correlated with increasing disconnection of left pre-PMd from the putative functional hierarchy, defined by reduced functional connectivity between left pre-PMd and adjacent nodes. These findings support the theory that activity within lateral frontal cortex shapes the search for relevant stimulus-response mappings, while emphasizing that the behavioral correlate of impairments depends critically on task structure.

Zorrilla, LT, Aguirre GK, Zarahn E, Cannon TD, D’Esposito.  1996.  Activation of the prefrontal cortex during judgments of recency: a functional MRI study., 1996 Nov 4. Neuroreport. 7:2803-6. Abstract

Animal and human lesion studies have consistently shown that damage to the prefrontal lobe disrupts performance on tasks requiring memory for temporal context. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to explore the brain regions associated with judgements of relative recency in healthy humans. Bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Brodmann’s area [BA] 9) was more active during a verbal recency judgment task than during a non-mnemonic control task. Activation related to temporal context recognition was also observed in midline supplementary motor area (BA 6) and left precuneus (BA 7). This study provides further evidence that memory for temporal context requires the prefrontal cortex and is the first to demonstrate this association in healthy humans. The current findings also suggest the possibility that recognition of context and recognition of episodic content may involve similar brain systems.

Druzgal, TJ, D’Esposito.  2001.  Activity in fusiform face area modulated as a function of working memory load., 2001 Jan. Brain research. Cognitive brain research. 10:355-64. Abstractdruzgal.pdf

Previous fMRI results suggest that extrastriate visual areas have a predominant role in perceptual processing while the prefrontal cortex (PFC) has a predominant role in working memory. In contrast, single-unit recording studies in monkeys have demonstrated a relationship between extrastriate visual areas and visual working memory tasks. In this study we tested whether activity in both the PFC and fusiform face area (FFA) changed with increasing demands of an n-back task for gray-scale faces. Since stimulus presentation was identical across conditions, the n-back task allowed us to parametrically vary working memory demands across conditions while holding perceptual and motor demands constant. This study replicated the result of PFC areas of activation that increased directly with load n of the task. The novel finding in all subjects was FFA activation that also increased directly with load n of the task. Since perceptual demands were equivalent across the three task conditions, these findings suggest that activity in both the PFC and the FFA vary with face working memory demands.

Postle, BR, Berger JS, Taich AM, D’Esposito.  2000.  Activity in human frontal cortex associated with spatial working memory and saccadic behavior., 2000. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. 12 Suppl 2:2-14. Abstract

We examined, with event-related fMRI, two hypotheses about the organization of human working memory function in frontal cortex: (1) that a region immediately anterior to the frontal eye fields (FEF) (superior frontal cortex, SFC) is specialized for spatial working memory (Courtney, et al., 1998); and (2) that dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a privileged role in the manipulation of spatial stimuli held in working memory (Owen, et al., 1996; Petrides 1994). Our delayed-response task featured 2-D arrays of irregularly arranged squares that were highlighted serially in a random sequence. The Forward Memory condition required maintenance of the spatio-temporal sequence, the Manipulate Memory condition required reordering this sequence into a new spatially defined order, the Guided Saccade condition required saccades to highlighted squares in the array, but no memory, and the Free Saccade condition required self-paced, horizontal saccades. The comparison of fMRI signal intensity associated with 2-D saccade generation (Guided Saccades) versus fMRI signal intensity associated with the delay period of the working memorials condition revealed no evidence for greater working memory-related activity than saccade-related activity in SFC in any individual subject, nor at the level of the group, and greater 2-D saccade than delay-period activity in three of five subjects. These results fail to support the hypothesis that spatial working memory-related activity is represented preferentially in a region of SFC anterior to the FEF (Courtney, et al., 1998). The comparison of maintenance versus manipulation of spatio-temporal information in working memory revealed significantly greater activity associated with the latter in dorsolateral PFC, but not in ventrolateral PFC or in SFC. These results suggest that the delay-related function of SFC is limited to the maintenance of spatial information, and that this region does not support the nonmnemonic executive control functions supported by dorsolateral PFC. These results also indicate that the preferential recruitment of dorsolateral PFC for the manipulation of information held in working memory applies to tasks employing spatial stimuli, as well as to tasks employing verbal stimuli (D’Esposito, et al., 1999); Petrides et al., 1993; Postle et al., 1999).

Boettiger, CA, D'Esposito M.  2006.  Addiction. Encyclopedia of the Brain and Learning. : Greenwood Publishing Group Abstractaddiction_for_encyl2.pdf

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Van Boven, RW, Harrington GS, Hackney DB, Ebel A, Gauger G, Bremner DJ, D’Esposito, Detre JA, Haacke ME, Jack CR, Jagust W, Le Bihan D, Mathis CA, Mueller S, Mukherjee P, Schuff N, Chen AJ-W, Weiner MW.  2009.  Advances in neuroimaging of traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder., 2009. Journal of rehabilitation research and development. 46:717-57. Abstract2009vanboven.pdf

Improved diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are needed for our military and veterans, their families, and society at large. Advances in brain imaging offer important biomarkers of structural, functional, and metabolic information concerning the brain. This article reviews the application of various imaging techniques to the clinical problems of TBI and PTSD. For TBI, we focus on findings and advances in neuroimaging that hold promise for better detection, characterization, and monitoring of objective brain changes in symptomatic patients with combat-related, closed-head brain injuries not readily apparent by standard computed tomography or conventional magnetic resonance imaging techniques.

Rypma, B, D'Esposito M.  2001.  Age-related changes in brain-behavior relationships: evidence from event-related functional MRI studies. Ageing and Executive Control. , Hove, UK: Psychology Press
Gazzaley, A, Sheridan MA, Cooney JW, D’Esposito.  2007.  Age-related deficits in component processes of working memory., 2007 Sep. Neuropsychology. 21:532-9. Abstract

Working memory deficits in normal aging have been well documented, and studies suggest that high memory load plus the presence of distraction negatively impacts successful memory performance to a greater degree in older individuals. However, characterization of the component processes that are impaired by these task manipulations is not clear. In this behavioral study, younger and older subjects were tested with a delayed-recognition and recall task in which the encoding and delay period were both manipulated. During the encoding period, the subjects were presented with either a single letter or multiple letters at their predetermined forward letter span, and the delay period was either uninterrupted or interrupted with a visual distraction. There was an age-related impairment of working memory recognition accuracy only in the combination of high memory load and distraction. These results suggest that when working memory maintenance systems are taxed, faulty recognition processes may underlie cognitive aging deficits in healthy older individuals.

Gazzaley, A, Clapp W, Kelley J, McEvoy K, Knight RT, D’Esposito.  2008.  Age-related top-down suppression deficit in the early stages of cortical visual memory processing., 2008 Sep 2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105:13122-6. Abstractpnas-2008-gazzaley-13122-6.pdf

In this study, electroencephalography (EEG) was used to examine the relationship between two leading hypotheses of cognitive aging, the inhibitory deficit and the processing speed hypothesis. We show that older adults exhibit a selective deficit in suppressing task-irrelevant information during visual working memory encoding, but only in the early stages of visual processing. Thus, the employment of suppressive mechanisms are not abolished with aging but rather delayed in time, revealing a decline in processing speed that is selective for the inhibition of irrelevant information. EEG spectral analysis of signals from frontal regions suggests that this results from excessive attention to distracting information early in the time course of viewing irrelevant stimuli. Subdividing the older population based on working memory performance revealed that impaired suppression of distracting information early in the visual processing stream is associated with poorer memory of task-relevant information. Thus, these data reconcile two cognitive aging hypotheses by revealing that an interaction of deficits in inhibition and processing speed contributes to age-related cognitive impairment.

Mitchell, KJ, Johnson MK, Raye CL, Mather M, D’Esposito.  2000.  Aging and reflective processes of working memory: binding and test load deficits., 2000 Sep. Psychology and aging. 15:527-41. Abstract2000mitchell.pdf

It was hypothesized that age-related deficits in episodic memory for feature combinations (e.g., B. L. Chalfonte & M. K. Johnson, 1996) signal, in part, decrements in the efficacy of reflective component processes (e.g., M. K. Johnson, 1992) that support the short-term maintenance and manipulation of information during encoding (e.g., F. 1. M. Craik. R. G. Morris. & M. L. Gick, 1990; T. A. Salthouse, 1990). Consistent with this, age-related binding deficits in a working memory task were found in 2 experiments. Evidence for an age-related test load deficit was also found: Older adults had greater difficulty than young adults when tested on 2 features rather than 1, even when binding was not required. Thus, disruption of source memory in older adults may involve deficits in both encoding processes (binding deficits) and monitoring processes (difficulty accessing multiple features, evaluating them, or both).

Sadaghiani, S, Scheeringa R, Lehongre K, Morillon B, Giraud A-L, D'Esposito M, Kleinschmidt A.  2012.  Alpha-Band Phase Synchrony Is Related to Activity in the Fronto-Parietal Adaptive Control Network., 2012 Oct 10. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 32(41):14305-14310. Abstract2012_sadaghiani.pdf

Neural oscillations in the alpha band (8-12 Hz) are increasingly viewed as an active inhibitory mechanism that gates and controls sensory information processing as a function of cognitive relevance. Extending this view, phase synchronization of alpha oscillations across distant cortical regions could regulate integration of information. Here, we investigated whether such long-range cross-region coupling in the alpha band is intrinsically and selectively linked to activity in a distinct functionally specialized brain network. If so, this would provide new insight into the functional role of alpha band phase synchrony. We adapted the phase-locking value to assess fluctuations in synchrony that occur over time in ongoing activity. Concurrent EEG and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were recorded during resting wakefulness in 26 human subjects. Fluctuations in global synchrony in the upper alpha band correlated positively with activity in several prefrontal and parietal regions (as measured by fMRI). fMRI intrinsic connectivity analysis confirmed that these regions correspond to the well known fronto-parietal (FP) network. Spectral correlations with this network's activity confirmed that no other frequency band showed equivalent results. This selective association supports an intrinsic relation between large-scale alpha phase synchrony and cognitive functions associated with the FP network. This network has been suggested to implement phasic aspects of top-down modulation such as initiation and change in moment-to-moment control. Mechanistically, long-range upper alpha band synchrony is well suited to support these functions. Complementing our previous findings that related alpha oscillation power to neural structures serving tonic control, the current findings link alpha phase synchrony to neural structures underpinning phasic control of alertness and task requirements.

D’Esposito, Deouell LY, Gazzaley A.  2003.  Alterations in the BOLD fMRI signal with ageing and disease: a challenge for neuroimaging., 2003 Nov. Nature reviews. Neuroscience. 4:863-72. Abstractdesposito_etal_nrn_2003.pdf

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D’Esposito, Verfaellie M, Alexander M, Katz DI.  1995.  Amnesia following traumatic bilateral fornix transection., 1995 Aug. Neurology. 45:1546-50. Abstract1995desposito.pdf

There is controversy regarding the effect of isolated fornix damage on human memory. We report a patient who suffered a traumatic penetrating head injury that resulted in a significant and persistent anterograde amnesia. CT revealed a lesion that involved the region of the proximal, posterior portion of both fornices without evidence of damage to other hippocampal pathways or to other structures known to be critical for memory, such as the hippocampus, thalamus, or basal forebrain. The unique location of the lesion in this patient provides evidence supporting the role of isolated fornix lesions in amnesia.

Hooker, CI, Germine LT, Knight RT, D’Esposito.  2006.  Amygdala response to facial expressions reflects emotional learning., 2006 Aug 30. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 26:8915-22. Abstract2006hooker.pdf

The functional role of the human amygdala in the evaluation of emotional facial expressions is unclear. Previous animal and human research shows that the amygdala participates in processing positive and negative reinforcement as well as in learning predictive associations between stimuli and subsequent reinforcement. Thus, amygdala response to facial expressions could reflect the processing of primary reinforcement or emotional learning. Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we tested the hypothesis that amygdala response to facial expressions is driven by emotional association learning. We show that the amygdala is more responsive to learning object-emotion associations from happy and fearful facial expressions than it is to the presentation of happy and fearful facial expressions alone. The results provide evidence that the amygdala uses social signals to rapidly and flexibly learn threatening and rewarding associations that ultimately serve to enhance survival.

Grossman, M, Mickanin J, Robinson KM, D’Esposito.  1996.  Anomaly judgments of subject-predicate relations in Alzheimer’s disease., 1996 Aug. Brain and language. 54:216-32. Abstract1996grossman.pdf

Claims that patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have semantic memory difficulty have received equivocal support. A common assumption has been that defining or core information determines the truth value of word meaning on measures requiring semantic memory such as category membership judgments or confrontation naming, but this assumption may not be valid. In the present study, we assessed the comprehension of subject-predicate sentences independent of their truth value by asking AD patients to judge the coherence of statements such as "The tulip is tall" or "*The tulip is jealous." We found that AD patients are significantly more impaired than controls at judging the coherence of these simple subject-predicate sentences. Moreover, AD patients were more successful at judging the coherence of statements that contain attributes with a narrow scope of reference compared to attributes with a broad scope of reference. These findings support the hypothesis that AD patients have a semantic memory impairment and suggest a specific deficit processing the network of semantic relations underlying word meaning in semantic memory.

Vytlacil, J, Kayser A, Miyakawa A, D'Esposito M.  2014.  An approach for identifying brainstem dopaminergic pathways using resting state functional MRI., 2014. PloS one. 9(1):e87109. Abstract

Here, we present an approach for identifying brainstem dopaminergic pathways using resting state functional MRI. In a group of healthy individuals, we searched for significant functional connectivity between dopamine-rich midbrain areas (substantia nigra; ventral tegmental area) and a striatal region (caudate) that was modulated by both a pharmacological challenge (the administration of the dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine) and a dopamine-sensitive cognitive trait (an individual's working memory capacity). A significant inverted-U shaped connectivity pattern was found in a subset of midbrain-striatal connections, demonstrating that resting state fMRI data is sufficiently powerful to identify brainstem neuromodulatory brain networks.

Wolfe, N, Babikian VL, Linn RT, Knoefel JE, D’Esposito, Albert ML.  1994.  Are multiple cerebral infarcts synergistic?, 1994 Feb Archives of neurology. 51:211-5. Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to characterize the cumulative effects of multiple strokes on cognition. DESIGN: We conducted a prospective, longitudinal case study with neuropsychological, neurological, and radiological evaluations. SETTING: Research was conducted at the Boston (Mass) Veterans Administration Medical Center, Neurology Service, on successive inpatient hospital admissions. PATIENT: We followed up a 66-year-old right-handed man with multiple subcortical lacunae during a 3.5-year period during which he suffered two additional cortical infarctions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Each evaluation included approximately 3 hours of neuropsychological testing spanning a range of cognitive domains (attention, language, memory, visuospatial functions, response inhibition, and mental flexibility), full neurological examination, and computed tomographic scan. RESULTS: The patient’s stepwise cognitive decline was characterized by unexpected exacerbation of "frontal" neurobehavioral features following the occurrence of two posterior cortical lesions. At initial evaluation, the computed tomographic scan showed bilateral subcortical lacunae in basal ganglia and periventricular white matter, and symptoms included dysarthria and perseveration. The second evaluation, following a left posterior parietal lesion, revealed a range of new frontal features, including impulsivity, pull-to-stimulus, and difficulty shifting set. Following a subsequent right occipital infarct, further frontal lobe impairments emerged: forced grasp reflex and incontinence. CONCLUSIONS: We hypothesize that the cumulative effects of infarcts were synergistic. That is, the posterior cortical infarcts elicited frontal features that would not be expected from a simple sum of these lesions’ effects.

Aguirre, GK, Zarahn E, D’Esposito.  1998.  An area within human ventral cortex sensitive to "building" stimuli: evidence and implications., 1998 Aug. Neuron. 21:373-83. Abstractaguirre1998.pdf

Isolated, ventral brain lesions in humans occasionally produce specific impairments in the ability to use landmarks, particularly buildings, for way-finding. Using functional MRI, we tested the hypothesis that there exists a cortical region specialized for the perception of buildings. Across subjects, a region straddling the right lingual sulcus was identified that possessed the functional correlates predicted for a specialized building area. A series of experiments discounted several alternative explanations for the behavior of this site. These results are discussed in terms of their impact upon our understanding of the functional structure of visual processing, disorders of topographical disorientation, and the influence of environmental conditions upon neural organization.

McGlinchey-Berroth, R, Bullis DP, Milberg WP, Verfaellie M, Alexander M, D’Esposito.  1996.  Assessment of neglect reveals dissociable behavioral but not neuroanatomical subtypes., 1996 Sep. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS. 2:441-51. Abstract

In the current study, we investigated whether standard assessment techniques of visuospatial neglect are sensitive to detecting dissociable subtypes. We administered a battery of tasks commonly used to detect the presence of visuospatial neglect to 120 patients with unilateral right hemisphere infarcts and, in most cases, performed a systematic analysis of their lesions to quantify and localize brain damage. Using a factor analysis, we discovered seven relatively independent constructs, three of which were specifically related to the presence of left hemispatial neglect: Left Attentional Processing, Line Bisection, and Word Reading. Impairments in two of these factors, Left Attentional Processing and Line Bisection, occurred together in most cases but also occurred independently in 38 cases. There were no cases in whom Word Reading was present without concomitant deficits in one or the other two factors. These three factors could not be distinguished neuroanatomically; that is, lesions were equally likely in the temporal/parietal cortex, dorsolateral frontal cortex, or in deep frontal structures. These data confirm the notion that hemispatial neglect is a complex and multifaceted disorder composed of cognitively independent processes. These processes, however, cannot be dissociated neuroanatomically based on currently available assessment techniques.

Novakovic-Agopian, T, Chen AJ-W, Rome S, Rossi A, Abrams G, Dʼesposito M, Turner G, McKim R, Muir J, Hills N, Kennedy C, Garfinkle J, Murphy M, Binder D, Castelli H.  2012.  Assessment of Subcomponents of Executive Functioning in Ecologically Valid Settings: The Goal Processing Scale., 2012 Oct 16. The Journal of head trauma rehabilitation. Abstract

OBJECTIVES:: To validate a new functional assessment tool, the Goal Processing Scale (GPS), and to apply it for testing for sources of dysfunction in patients with acquired brain injury. Determining which component processes of executive functioning underlie poor performance in complex, low-structure settings would be valuable for the assessment of deficits and for evaluating the effectiveness of treatments. PARTICIPANTS:: Nineteen individuals with chronic acquired brain injury (mean age = 41.4 years; chronicity: 6 months to 39 years). MAIN MEASURES:: Two functional assessment tasks: (1) GPS, which evaluates functional performance in the context of achieving a goal in a "real-world" setting, with rating scales measuring overall performance and 8 subdomains of executive functioning; (2) Multiple Errands Test, an unstructured assessment of ability to adhere to rules and complete multiple "real-world" tasks in a short time; and (3) a neuropsychological battery. RESULTS:: Intraclass correlation coefficients for 2 independent raters ranged from 0.75 to 0.98 for the GPS overall composite score and the subdomain scores. Performance on GPS overall and several subdomain scores correlated with performance on the Multiple Errands Test. Working memory and learning/memory neuropsychological measures predicted functional performance as measured using the GPS. DISCUSSION:: The GPS shows high interrater reliability, suggesting convergent validity with an established functional performance measure, and produces useful information regarding strengths and weaknesses in different subdomains of executive functioning. Working memory and learning/memory appear to be key determinants of goal-directed functioning for these individuals with brain injury.

Gratton, C, Sreenivasan KK, Silver MA, D'Esposito M.  2013.  Attention selectively modifies the representation of individual faces in the human brain., 2013 Apr 17. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 33(16):6979-89. Abstract2013_gratton.pdf

Attention modifies neural tuning for low-level features, but it is unclear how attention influences tuning for complex stimuli. We investigated this question in humans using fMRI and face stimuli. Participants were shown six faces (F1-F6) along a morph continuum, and selectivity was quantified by constructing tuning curves for individual voxels. Face-selective voxels exhibited greater responses to their preferred face than to nonpreferred faces, particularly in posterior face areas. Anterior face areas instead displayed tuning for face categories: voxels in these areas preferred either the first (F1-F3) or second (F4-F6) half of the morph continuum. Next, we examined the effects of attention on voxel tuning by having subjects direct attention to one of the superimposed images of F1 and F6. We found that attention selectively enhanced responses in voxels preferring the attended face. Together, our results demonstrate that single voxels carry information about individual faces and that the nature of this information varies across cortical face areas. Additionally, we found that attention selectively enhances these representations. Our findings suggest that attention may act via a unitary principle of selective enhancement of responses to both simple and complex stimuli across multiple stages of the visual hierarchy.

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Postle, BR, Berger JS, Goldstein JH, Curtis CE, D’Esposito.  2001.  Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of episodic coding, proactive interference, and list length effects in a running span verbal working memory task., 2001 Mar. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience. 1:10-21. Abstractpostle2001.pdf

Updating refers to (1) discarding items from, (2) repositioning items in, and (3) adding items to a running working memory span. Our behavioral and fMRI experiments varied three factors: trial length, proactive interference (PI), and group integrity. Group integrity reflected whether the grouping of items at the encoding stage was violated at discarding. Behavioral results were consistent with the idea that updating processes have a relatively short refractory period and may not fatigue, and they revealed that episodic information about group context is encoded automatically in working memory stimulus representations. The fMRI results did not show evidence that updating requirements in a task recruit executive control processes other than those supporting performance on nonupdating trials. They did reveal an item-accumulation effect, in which signal increased monotonically with the number of items presented during the trial, despite the insensitivity of behavioral measures to this factor. Behavioral and fMRI correlates of PI extended previous results and rejected an alternative explanation of PI effects in working memory.

Rajah, MN, Bastianetto S, Bromley-Brits K, Cools R, D’Esposito, Grady CL, Poirier J, Quirion R, Raz N, Rogaeva E, Song W, Pruessner J.  2009.  Biological changes associated with healthy versus pathological aging: a symposium review., 2009 Apr. Ageing research reviews. 8:140-6. Abstractrajah_2009_ageing-research-reviews.pdf

The Douglas Mental Health University Institute, in collaboration with the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, organized a 2-day symposium entitled "Biological Changes Associated with Healthy Versus Pathological Aging" that was held in 13 and 14 December 2007 on the Douglas campus. The symposium involved presentations on current trends in aging and dementia research across several sub-disciplines: genetics, neurochemistry, structural and functional neuroimaging and clinical treatment and rehabilitation. The goal of this symposium was to provide a forum for knowledge-transfer between scientists and clinicians with different specializations in order to promote cross-fertilization of research ideas that would lead to future collaborative neuroscience research in aging and dementia. In this review article, we summarize the presentations made by the 13 international scientists at the symposium and highlight: (i) past research, and future research trends in neuroscience of aging and dementia and (ii) links across levels of analysis that can lead to fruitful transdisciplinary research programs that will advance knowledge about the neurobiological changes associated with healthy aging and dementia.

Gazzaley, A, D'Esposito M.  2005.  BOLD fMRI and cognitive aging. Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging. : Oxford University Press Abstract

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D’Esposito, Weksler ME.  2000.  Brain aging and memory: new findings help differentiate forgetfulness and dementia., 2000 Jun. Geriatrics. 55:55-8,61-2. Abstract

Geriatrics is pleased to highlight the clinical implications of research topics supported by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). AFAR is a leading private organization supporting research on the aging process and diseases of older populations. More than 900 physicians, scientists, and students have received AFAR grants totaling more than $20 million since AFAR was founded by Irving S. Wright, MD, in 1981. The articles in the New Frontiers series are designed to provide primary care physicians with insight into the pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the diseases of aging.

Adnan, A, Chen AJW, Novakovic-Agopian T, D'Esposito M, Turner GR.  2017.  Brain Changes Following Executive Control Training in Older Adults., 2017 Sep 01. Neurorehabilitation and neural repair. :1545968317728580. Abstract

While older adults are able to attend to goal-relevant information, the capacity to ignore irrelevant or distracting information declines with advancing age. This decline in selective attention has been associated with poor modulation of brain activity in sensory cortices by anterior brain regions implicated in cognitive control.

Johnson, MR, Mitchell KJ, Raye CL, D’Esposito, Johnson MK.  2007.  A brief thought can modulate activity in extrastriate visual areas: Top-down effects of refreshing just-seen visual stimuli., 2007 Aug 1. NeuroImage. 37:290-9. Abstract2007johnson.pdf

Current models of executive function hold that the internal representations of stimuli used during reflective thought are maintained in the same posterior cortical regions initially activated during perception, and that activity in such regions is modulated by top-down signals originating in prefrontal cortex. In an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we presented participants with two pictures simultaneously, a face and a scene, immediately followed either by a repetition of one of the pictures (perception) or by a cue to think briefly of one of the just-seen, but no longer present, pictures (refreshing, a reflective act). Refreshing faces and scenes modulated activity in the fusiform face area (FFA) and parahippocampal place area (PPA), respectively, as well as other regions exhibiting relative perceptual selectivity for either faces or scenes. Four scene-selective regions (lateral precuneus, retrosplenial cortex, PPA, and middle occipital gyrus) showed an anatomical gradient of responsiveness to top-down reflective influences versus bottom-up perceptual influences. These results demonstrate that a brief reflective act can modulate posterior cortical activity in a stimulus-specific manner, suggesting that such modulatory mechanisms are engaged even during transient ongoing thought. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that refreshing is a component of more complex modulatory operations such as working memory and mental imagery, and that refresh-related activity may thus contribute to the common activation patterns seen across different cognitive tasks.

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D'Esposito, M, Gazzaley A.  2011.  Can age-associated memory decline be treated?, 2011 Oct 6 The New England journal of medicine. 365(14):1346-7. Abstract2011_desposito_nejm.pdf

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Curtis, CE, Cole MW, Rao VY, D’Esposito.  2005.  Canceling planned action: an FMRI study of countermanding saccades., 2005 Sep. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). 15:1281-9. Abstractcurtis2005_cancelling_planned_action_an_fmri_study_of_countermanding_saccades.pdf

We investigated the voluntary control of motor behavior by studying the process of deciding whether or not to execute a movement. We imaged the human dorsal cortex while subjects performed a countermanding task that allowed us to manipulate the probability that subjects would be able to cancel a planned saccade in response to an imperative stop signal. We modeled the behavioral data as a race between gaze-shifting mechanisms and gaze-holding mechanisms towards a finish line where a saccade is generated or canceled, and estimated that saccade cancelation took approximately 160 ms. The frontal eye fields showed greater activation on stop signal trials regardless of successful cancelation, suggesting coactivation of saccade and fixation mechanisms. The supplementary eye fields, however, distinguished between successful and unsuccessful cancelation, suggesting a role in monitoring performance. These oculomotor regions play distinct roles in the decision processes mediating saccadic choice.

Robinson, KM, Grossman M, White-Devine T, D’Esposito.  1996.  Category-specific difficulty naming with verbs in Alzheimer’s disease., 1996 Jul. Neurology. 47:178-82. Abstract1996robinson.pdf

We studied 20 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) on a picture-naming task consisting of frequency-matched pairs of nouns and verbs that were homophonic and homographic (e.g., paint). Intragroup comparisons revealed that verb naming is significantly more difficult for patients with AD than noun naming. An error analysis demonstrated that patients with AD produce significantly more semantic and descriptive errors for verbs than nouns. We correlated verb naming and noun naming with measures of grammatical comprehension, lexical retrieval, and visuoperceptual processing, but there were no selective effects for verbs compared with nouns. Differences in the mental representation of concepts underlying verbs and nouns may account, in part, for the relative difficulty naming with verbs in AD.

Ranganath, C, DeGutis J, D’Esposito.  2004.  Category-specific modulation of inferior temporal activity during working memory encoding and maintenance., 2004 Jun. Brain research. Cognitive brain research. 20:37-45. Abstract2004ranganath_cognitivebrainresearch.pdf

Findings from neurophysiology have supported the view that visual working memory (WM) relies on modulation of activity in object-selective populations of neurons in inferior temporal cortex. Here, using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated whether similar mechanisms support human visual working memory encoding and maintenance processes. We identified regions in inferior temporal cortex that exhibited category-specific responses during perception of faces (fusiform face area [FFA]) or scenes (parahippocampal place area [PPA]) and investigated whether activity in these regions would be modulated by demands to actively encode and maintain faces and scenes. Results showed that independent of perceptual stimulation, the FFA and PPA exhibited greater encoding- and maintenance-related activity when their favored stimulus was relevant to the recognition task. In contrast, maintenance-related activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) was modulated by memory load, regardless of the type of information that was task relevant. These results are consistent with the view that visual working memory encoding and maintenance processes are implemented through modulation of inferior temporal activity by prefrontal cortex.

Rahnev, D, Nee DE, Riddle J, Larson AS, D'Esposito M.  2016.  Causal evidence for frontal cortex organization for perceptual decision making., 2016 May 9. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Abstract

Although recent research has shown that the frontal cortex has a critical role in perceptual decision making, an overarching theory of frontal functional organization for perception has yet to emerge. Perceptual decision making is temporally organized such that it requires the processes of selection, criterion setting, and evaluation. We hypothesized that exploring this temporal structure would reveal a large-scale frontal organization for perception. A causal intervention with transcranial magnetic stimulation revealed clear specialization along the rostrocaudal axis such that the control of successive stages of perceptual decision making was selectively affected by perturbation of successively rostral areas. Simulations with a dynamic model of decision making suggested distinct computational contributions of each region. Finally, the emergent frontal gradient was further corroborated by functional MRI. These causal results provide an organizational principle for the role of frontal cortex in the control of perceptual decision making and suggest specific mechanistic contributions for its different subregions.

Nee, DE, D'Esposito M.  2017.  Causal evidence for lateral prefrontal cortex dynamics supporting cognitive control., 2017 Sep 13. eLife. 6 Abstract

The lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) is essential for higher-level cognition, but how its interactions support cognitive control remains elusive. Previously (Nee and D'Esposito, 2016), dynamic causal modeling (DCM) indicated that mid LPFC integrates abstract, rostral and concrete, caudal influences to inform context-appropriate action. Here, we use continuous theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) to causally test this model. cTBS was applied to three LPFC sites and a control site in counterbalanced sessions. Behavioral modulations resulting from cTBS were largely predicted by information flow within the previously estimated DCM. However, cTBS to caudal LPFC unexpectedly impaired processes presumed to involve rostral LPFC. Adding a pathway from caudal to mid-rostral LPFC significantly improved the model fit and accounted for the observed behavioral findings. These data provide causal evidence for LPFC dynamics supporting cognitive control and demonstrate the utility of combining DCM with causal manipulations to test and refine models of cognition.

Deouell, LY, Heller AS, Malach R, D’Esposito, Knight RT.  2007.  Cerebral responses to change in spatial location of unattended sounds., 2007 Sep 20. Neuron. 55:985-96. Abstract2007deouell.pdf

The neural basis of spatial processing in the auditory cortex has been controversial. Human fMRI studies suggest that a part of the planum temporale (PT) is involved in auditory spatial processing, but it was recently argued that this region is active only when the task requires voluntary spatial localization. If this is the case, then this region cannot harbor an ongoing spatial representation of the acoustic environment. In contrast, we show in three fMRI experiments that a region in the human medial PT is sensitive to background auditory spatial changes, even when subjects are not engaged in a spatial localization task, and in fact attend the visual modality. During such times, this area responded to rare location shifts, and even more so when spatial variation increased, consistent with spatially selective adaptation. Thus, acoustic space is represented in the human PT even when sound processing is not required by the ongoing task.

Silver, MA, Shenhav A, D’Esposito.  2008.  Cholinergic enhancement reduces spatial spread of visual responses in human early visual cortex., 2008 Dec 10. Neuron. 60:904-14. Abstract2008silver.pdf

Animal studies have shown that acetylcholine decreases excitatory receptive field size and spread of excitation in early visual cortex. These effects are thought to be due to facilitation of thalamocortical synaptic transmission and/or suppression of intracortical connections. We have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the spatial spread of responses to visual stimulation in human early visual cortex. The cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil was administered to normal healthy human subjects to increase synaptic levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Cholinergic enhancement with donepezil decreased the spatial spread of excitatory fMRI responses in visual cortex, consistent with a role of acetylcholine in reducing excitatory receptive field size of cortical neurons. Donepezil also reduced response amplitude in visual cortex, but the cholinergic effects on spatial spread were not a direct result of reduced amplitude. These findings demonstrate that acetylcholine regulates spatial integration in human visual cortex.

Gratton, C, Yousef S, Aarts E, Wallace DL, D'Esposito M, Silver MA.  2017.  Cholinergic, but not dopaminergic or noradrenergic, enhancement sharpens visual spatial perception in humans., 2017 Mar 23. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Abstract

The neuromodulator acetylcholine (ACh) modulates spatial integration in visual cortex by altering the balance of inputs that generate neuronal receptive fields. These cholinergic effects may provide a neurobiological mechanism underlying the modulation of visual representations by visual spatial attention. However, the consequences of cholinergic enhancement on visuospatial perception in humans are unknown. We conducted two experiments to test whether enhancing cholinergic signaling selectively alters perceptual measures of visuospatial interactions in human subjects. In Experiment 1, a double-blind placebo-controlled pharmacology study, we measured how flanking distractors influenced detection of a small contrast decrement of a peripheral target, as a function of target/flanker distance. We found that cholinergic enhancement with the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil improved target detection, and modeling suggested that this was mainly due to a narrowing of the extent of facilitatory perceptual spatial interactions. In Experiment 2, we tested whether these effects were selective to the cholinergic system or would also be observed following enhancements of related neuromodulators dopamine (DA) or norepinephrine (NE). Unlike cholinergic enhancement, DA (bromocriptine) and NE (guanfacine) manipulations did not improve performance or systematically alter the spatial profile of perceptual interactions between targets and distractors. These findings reveal mechanisms by which cholinergic signaling influences visual spatial interactions in perception and improves processing of a visual target among distractors - effects that are notably similar to those of spatial selective attention.Significance StatementAcetylcholine influences how visual cortical neurons integrate signals across space - perhaps providing a neurobiological mechanism for the effects of visual selective attention. However, the influence of cholinergic enhancement on visuospatial perception remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that cholinergic enhancement improves detection of a target flanked by distractors, consistent with sharpened visuospatial perceptual representations. Furthermore, while most pharmacological studies focus on a single neurotransmitter, many neuromodulators can have related effects on cognition and perception. Thus, we also demonstrate that enhancing noradrenergic and dopaminergic systems does not systematically improve visuospatial perception or alter its tuning. Our results link visuospatial tuning effects of acetylcholine at the neuronal and perceptual levels and provide insights into the connection between cholinergic signaling and visual attention.

Grossman, M, Galetta S, Ding X-S, Morrison D, D’Esposito, Robinson K, Jaggi J, Alavi A, Reivich M.  1996.  Clinical and positron emission tomography studies of visual apperceptive agnosia. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology & Behavioral Neurology. AbstractWebsite

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D’Esposito, Alexander M.  1995.  The clinical profiles, recovery and rehabilitation of memory disorders. Neurorehabilitation. Abstract

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Blumenfeld, RS, Bliss DP, Perez F, D'Esposito M.  2013.  CoCoTools: Open-source Software for Building Connectomes Using the CoCoMac Anatomical Database., 2013 Oct 11. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. Abstract

Neuroanatomical tracer studies in the nonhuman primate macaque monkey are a valuable resource for cognitive neuroscience research. These data ground theories of cognitive function in anatomy, and with the emergence of graph theoretical analyses in neuroscience, there is high demand for these data to be consolidated into large-scale connection matrices ("macroconnectomes"). Because manual review of the anatomical literature is time consuming and error prone, computational solutions are needed to accomplish this task. Here we describe the "CoCoTools" open-source Python library, which automates collection and integration of macaque connectivity data for visualization and graph theory analysis. CoCoTools both interfaces with the CoCoMac database, which houses a vast amount of annotated tracer results from 100 years (1905-2005) of neuroanatomical research and implements coordinate-free registration algorithms, which allow studies that use different parcellations of the brain to be translated into a single graph. We show that using CoCoTools to translate all of the data stored in CoCoMac produces graphs with properties consistent with what is known about global brain organization. Moreover, in addition to describing CoCoTools' processing pipeline, we provide worked examples, tutorials, links to on-line documentation, and detailed appendices to aid scientists interested in using CoCoTools to gather and analyze CoCoMac data.

D’Esposito.  1999.  Cognitive aging: new answers to old questions., 1999 Dec 16-30. Current biology : CB. 9:R939-41. Abstract1999desposito.pdf

The use of techniques for functional brain imaging is beginning to provide insights into the psychological and neural mechanisms that underlie age-related changes in cognitive performance.

Kounios, J, Smith RW, Yang W, Bachman P, D’Esposito.  2001.  Cognitive association formation in human memory revealed by spatiotemporal brain imaging., 2001 Jan. Neuron. 29:297-306. Abstractkounios2001.pdf

Cognitive theory posits association by juxtaposition or by fusion. We employed the measurement of event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to a concept fusion task in order to explore memory encoding of these two types of associations between word pairs, followed by a memory test for original pair order. Encoding processes were isolated by subtracting fusion task ERPs corresponding to pairs later retrieved quickly from ERPs corresponding to pairs later retrieved slowly, separately for pairs fused successfully and unsuccessfully (i.e., juxtaposed). Analyses revealed that the encoding of these two types of associations yields different ERP voltage polarities, scalp topographies, and brain sources extending over the entire time course of processing.

Kimberg, DY, D’Esposito.  2003.  Cognitive effects of the dopamine receptor agonist pergolide., 2003. Neuropsychologia. 41:1020-7. Abstractkimberg2003.pdf

Although dopamine has been closely associated with prefrontal function, and with working memory in monkeys, the effects of dopamine agonists on human cognitive performance are poorly understood. We report the effects of a single dose of pergolide on young healthy subjects performing a variety of cognitive tests, including tests of memory and of frontal/executive function. Across this battery of tasks, the only tasks reliably affected by pergolide were delayed response tasks. Across four variants, we observed that the effect of pergolide was more beneficial for subjects with greater working memory capacities. We discuss this in light of the variable results obtained from previous studies of dopamine agonists in human subjects.

Kimberg, DY, D’Esposito.  1997.  Cognitive functions in the prefrontal cortex: working memory and executive control. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Abstract1997kimberg.pdfWebsite

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D'Esposito, M, Postle BR.  2014.  The Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory., 2014 Sep 19. Annual review of psychology. Abstract

For more than 50 years, psychologists and neuroscientists have recognized the importance of a working memory to coordinate processing when multiple goals are active and to guide behavior with information that is not present in the immediate environment. In recent years, psychological theory and cognitive neuroscience data have converged on the idea that information is encoded into working memory by allocating attention to internal representations, whether semantic long-term memory (e.g., letters, digits, words), sensory, or motoric. Thus, information-based multivariate analyses of human functional MRI data typically find evidence for the temporary representation of stimuli in regions that also process this information in non-working memory contexts. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), on the other hand, exerts control over behavior by biasing the salience of mnemonic representations and adjudicating among competing, context-dependent rules. The "control of the controller" emerges from a complex interplay between PFC and striatal circuits and ascending dopaminergic neuromodulatory signals. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 66 is November 30, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.

Curtis, CE, Sun FT, Miller LM, D’Esposito.  2005.  Coherence between fMRI time-series distinguishes two spatial working memory networks., 2005 May 15. NeuroImage. 26:177-83. Abstractcurtis2005_coherence_between_fmri_time-series_distinguishes_two_spatial_working_memory_networks.pdf

Widespread and distributed brain regions are thought to form networks that together support working memory. We recently demonstrated that different cortical areas maintain relatively different codes across a memory delay (Curtis et. al., J Neurosci, 2004; 24:3944-3952). The frontal eye fields (FEF), for example, were more active during the delay when the direction of the memory-guided saccade was known compared to when it was not known throughout the delay. Other areas showed the opposite pattern. Despite these task-dependent differences in regional activity, we could only assume but not address the functional interactions between the identified nodes of the putative network. Here, we use a bivariate technique, coherence, to formally characterize functional interactions between a seed region and other brain areas. We find that the type of representational codes that are being maintained in working memory biases frontal-parietal interactions. For example, coherence between FEF and other oculomotor areas was greater when a motor representation was an efficient strategy to bridge the delay period. However, coherence between the FEF and higher-order heteromodal areas, e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, was greater when a sensory representation must be maintained in working memory.

Kroll, NEA, Knight RT, Metcalfed E, Wolfe ES, Tulving E.  1996.  Cohesion failure as a source of memory illusions. Journal of Memory and Language. Abstract1996kroll.pdf

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D'Esposito, M, Badre D.  2011.  Combining the insights derived from lesion and fMRI studies to understand the function of prefrontal cortex. Mind and the Frontal Lobes: Cognition, Behavior, and Brain Imaging. , New York: Oxford University Press
Kayser, A, Sun FT, D’Esposito.  2009.  A comparison of Granger causality and coherency in fMRI-based analysis of the motor system., 2009 Nov. Human brain mapping. 30:3475-94. Abstract2009kayserhbm.pdf

The ability of functional MRI to acquire data from multiple brain areas has spurred developments not only in voxel-by-voxel analyses, but also in multivariate techniques critical to quantifying the interactions between brain areas. As the number of multivariate techniques multiplies, however, few studies in any modality have directly compared different connectivity measures, and fewer still have done so in the context of well-characterized neural systems. To focus specifically on the temporal dimension of interactions between brain regions, we compared Granger causality and coherency (Sun et al., 2004, 2005: Neuroimage 21:647-658, Neuroimage 28:227-237) in a well-studied motor system (1) to gain further insight into the convergent and divergent results expected from each technique, and (2) to investigate the leading and lagging influences between motor areas as subjects performed a motor task in which they produced different learned series of eight button presses. We found that these analyses gave convergent but not identical results: both techniques, for example, suggested an anterior-to-posterior temporal gradient of activity from supplemental motor area through premotor and motor cortices to the posterior parietal cortex, but the techniques were differentially sensitive to the coupling strength between areas. We also found practical reasons that might argue for the use of one technique over another in different experimental situations. Ultimately, the ideal approach to fMRI data analysis is likely to involve a complementary combination of methods, possibly including both Granger causality and coherency.

Buchsbaum, BR, Baldo J, Okada K, Berman KF, Dronkers N, D’Esposito, Hickok G.  2011.  Conduction aphasia, sensory-motor integration, and phonological short-term memory - An aggregate analysis of lesion and fMRI data., 2011 Jan 20. Brain and language. Abstract2011_buchsbaum.pdf

Conduction aphasia is a language disorder characterized by frequent speech errors, impaired verbatim repetition, a deficit in phonological short-term memory, and naming difficulties in the presence of otherwise fluent and grammatical speech output. While traditional models of conduction aphasia have typically implicated white matter pathways, recent advances in lesions reconstruction methodology applied to groups of patients have implicated left temporoparietal zones. Parallel work using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has pinpointed a region in the posterior most portion of the left planum temporale, area Spt, which is critical for phonological working memory. Here we show that the region of maximal lesion overlap in a sample of 14 patients with conduction aphasia perfectly circumscribes area Spt, as defined in an aggregate fMRI analysis of 105 subjects performing a phonological working memory task. We provide a review of the evidence supporting the idea that Spt is an interface site for the integration of sensory and vocal tract-related motor representations of complex sound sequences, such as speech and music and show how the symptoms of conduction aphasia can be explained by damage to this system.

Johnson, MK, Hayes SM, D'Esposito M, Raye CL.  2001.  Confabulation. Handbook of Neuropsychology (2nd edition, volume 2). , Amsterdam: Elsevier Abstract

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Rahnev, D, Koizumi A, McCurdy LY, D'Esposito M, Lau H.  2015.  Confidence Leak in Perceptual Decision Making., 2015 Sep 25. Psychological science. Abstract

People live in a continuous environment in which the visual scene changes on a slow timescale. It has been shown that to exploit such environmental stability, the brain creates a continuity field in which objects seen seconds ago influence the perception of current objects. What is unknown is whether a similar mechanism exists at the level of metacognitive representations. In three experiments, we demonstrated a robust intertask confidence leak-that is, confidence in one's response on a given task or trial influencing confidence on the following task or trial. This confidence leak could not be explained by response priming or attentional fluctuations. Better ability to modulate confidence leak predicted higher capacity for metacognition as well as greater gray matter volume in the prefrontal cortex. A model based on normative principles from Bayesian inference explained the results by postulating that observers subjectively estimate the perceptual signal strength in a stable environment. These results point to the existence of a novel metacognitive mechanism mediated by regions in the prefrontal cortex.

Gazzaley, A, D'Esposito M.  2007.  Considerations for the application of BOLD fMRI to neurological impaired populations. Functional Neuroimaging of Neurological Disorders. , New York: Guilford Publications Abstractesposito.pdf

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Grossman, M, Payer F, Onishi K, White-Devine T, Morrison D, D’Esposito, Robinson K, Alavi A.  1997.  Constraints on the cerebral basis for semantic processing from neuroimaging studies of Alzheimer’s disease., 1997 Aug. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. 63:152-8. Abstract1997grossman2.pdf

OBJECTIVE: Functional activation studies of semantic processing in healthy adults have yielded conflicting results. The purpose was to evaluate the relative role of the brain regions implicated in semantic processing with converging evidence from imaging studies of patients with impaired semantic processing. METHODS: Semantic memory was assessed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease using two measures, and these performance patterns were related to profiles of reduced cerebral functioning obtained with high resolution single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Patients with frontotemporal degeneration were similarly evaluated as a control group. RESULTS: Reduced relative cerebral perfusion was seen in parietal and posterior temporal brain regions of patients with Alzheimer’s disease but not patients with frontotemporal degeneration. Impairments on semantically guided category membership decision tasks were also seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease but not those with frontotemporal degeneration. Performance on the semantic measures correlated with relative cerebral perfusion in inferior parietal and superior temporal regions of the left hemisphere only in Alzheimer’s disease. Relative perfusion was significantly lower in these regions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease with semantic difficulty compared with patients with Alzheimer’s disease with relatively preserved semantic processing. CONCLUSION: These findings provide converging evidence to support the contribution of superior temporal and inferior parietal regions of the left hemisphere to semantic processing.

Handwerker, DA, Gonzalez-Castillo J, D'Esposito M, Bandettini PA.  2012.  The continuing challenge of understanding and modeling hemodynamic variation in fMRI., 2012 Feb 14. NeuroImage. Abstract2012_handwerker.pdf

Interpretation of fMRI data depends on our ability to understand or model the shape of the hemodynamic response (HR) to a neural event. Although the HR has been studied almost since the beginning of fMRI, we are still far from having robust methods to account for the full range of known HR variation in typical fMRI analyses. This paper reviews how the authors and others contributed to our understanding of HR variation. We present an overview of studies that describe HR variation across voxels, healthy volunteers, populations, and dietary or pharmaceutical modulations. We also describe efforts to minimize the effects of HR variation in intrasubject, group, population, and connectivity analyses and the limits of these methods.

Gazzaley, A, D’Esposito.  2003.  The contribution of functional brain imaging to our understanding of cognitive aging., 2003 Jan 29. Science of aging knowledge environment : SAGE KE. 2003:PE2. Abstract

The study of cognitive aging seeks to determine the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying age-related decline in cognitive performance. New methods in functional brain imaging are beginning to provide possible answers to questions regarding age-related cognitive decline.

Beer, JS, Knight RT, D’Esposito.  2006.  Controlling the integration of emotion and cognition: the role of frontal cortex in distinguishing helpful from hurtful emotional information., 2006 May. Psychological science. 17:448-53. Abstractbeer2006controlling_the_integration_of_emotion_and_cognition.pdf

Emotion has been both lauded and vilified for its role in decision making. How are people able to ensure that helpful emotions guide decision making and irrelevant emotions are kept out of decision making? The orbitofrontal cortex has been identified as a neural area involved in incorporating emotion into decision making. Is this area’s function specific to the integration of emotion and cognition, or does it more broadly govern whether emotional information should be integrated into cognition? The present research examined the role of orbitofrontal cortex when it was appropriate to control (i.e., prevent) the influence of emotion in decision making (Experiment 1) and to incorporate the influence of emotion in decision making (Experiment 2). Together, the two studies suggest that activity in lateral orbitofrontal cortex is associated with evaluating the contextual relevance of emotional information for decision making.

Cohen, JR, Sreenivasan KK, D'Esposito M.  2012.  Correspondence Between Stimulus Encoding- and Maintenance-Related Neural Processes Underlies Successful Working Memory., 2012 Nov 11. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). Abstract2012_cohen.pdf

The ability to actively maintain information in working memory (WM) is vital for goal-directed behavior, but the mechanisms underlying this process remain elusive. We hypothesized that successful WM relies upon a correspondence between the neural processes associated with stimulus encoding and the neural processes associated with maintenance. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we identified regional activity and inter-regional connectivity during stimulus encoding and the maintenance of those stimuli when they were no longer present. We compared correspondence in these neural processes across encoding and maintenance epochs with WM performance. Critically, greater correspondence between encoding and maintenance in 1) regional activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and 2) connectivity between lateral PFC and extrastriate cortex was associated with increased performance. These findings suggest that the conservation of neural processes across encoding and maintenance supports the integrity of representations in WM.

Kimberg, DY, Aguirre GK, Lease J, D’Esposito.  2001.  Cortical effects of bromocriptine, a D-2 dopamine receptor agonist, in human subjects, revealed by fMRI., 2001 Apr. Human brain mapping. 12:246-57. Abstractbromo.pdf

Studies of human subjects performing cognitive tasks on and off dopaminergic drugs have suggested a specific role of dopamine in cognitive processes, particularly in working memory and prefrontal "executive" functions. However, the cortical effects of these drugs have been poorly understood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine both task-specific and general changes in cortical activity associated with bromocriptine, a selective agonist for D-2 dopamine receptors. Bromocriptine resulted in task-specific modulations of task-related activity in three cognitive tasks. Across tasks, the overall effect of the drug was to reduce task-related activity. We also observed drug effects on behavior that correlated with individual differences in memory span. We argue that bromocriptine may show both task-specific modulation and task-general inhibition of neural activity due to dopaminergic neurotransmission.

Aguirre, GK, Zarahn E, D’Esposito.  1998.  A critique of the use of the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (KS) statistic for the analysis of BOLD fMRI data., 1998 Mar. Magnetic resonance in medicine : official journal of the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine / Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 39:500-5. Abstract1998aguirre.pdf

The use of the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (KS) statistic for testing hypotheses regarding activation in blood oxygenation level-dependent functional MRI data is critiqued on both theoretical and empirical grounds. Theoretically, it is argued that the KS test is formally unable to support inferences of interest to most neuro-imaging studies and has reduced sensitivity compared with parametric alternatives. Empirically, false-positive rates yielded by the KS test in human data collected under the null hypothesis were significantly in excess of tabular values. These excessive false-positive rates could be explained by the presence of temporal autocorrelation. We also present evidence that the distribution of blood oxygenation level-dependent functional MRI data is only slightly nonnormal, questioning the initial impetus for the use of the KS test in this context. Finally, it is noted that parametric alternatives exist that do provide adequate control of the false-positive rate and can support inferences of interest.

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D’Esposito, Postle BR.  1999.  The dependence of span and delayed-response performance on prefrontal cortex., 1999 Oct. Neuropsychologia. 37:1303-15. Abstractdependence.pdf

Theoretical and empirical research on the cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex have established that this region mediates what have been called ’executive’ processes that can influence working and long-term memory. Despite the accumulation of such empirical evidence, the dependence of purely mnemonic portions of memory tasks on PFC remains unresolved. To address this issue, we performed an analysis of reports of performance on tests of working memory of patients with lesions of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, focusing on published reports in the literature of simple span and delayed-response tasks. We found that none of the eleven studies of forward verbal and spatial span in patients with prefrontal cortical lesions that we reviewed (reflecting the performance of 166 individual patients) demonstrated a statistically significant deficit relative to normal controls. In contrast, our review of the delayed-response literature indicated that there are conditions under which PFC lesions disrupt delayed-response performance. Based on the results of our review of the literature, we present testable hypotheses about the working memory functions of the PFC.

McDowell, S, Whyte J, D’Esposito.  1998.  Differential effect of a dopaminergic agonist on prefrontal function in traumatic brain injury patients., 1998 Jun. Brain : a journal of neurology. 121 ( Pt 6):1155-64. Abstractdifferential.pdf

We examined the effects of low-dose bromocriptine, a D2 dopamine receptor agonist, on processes thought to be subserved by the prefrontal cortex, including working memory and executive function, in individuals with traumatic brain injury. A group of 24 subjects was tested using a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, counterbalanced for order. Bromocriptine was found to improve performance on some tasks thought to be subserved by prefrontal function, but not others. Specifically, there was improvement in performance on clinical measures of executive function and in dual-task performance, but not measures that tap the ability to maintain information in working memory without significant executive demands. Also, on control tasks not thought to be dependent on the prefrontal cortex, no improvement on bromocriptine was noted. These results demonstrate a selective effect of bromocriptine on cognitive processes which involve executive control, and provide a foundation for potential therapies for patients with prefrontal damage causing dysexecutive syndromes.

Yoon, JH, Curtis CE, D’Esposito.  2006.  Differential effects of distraction during working memory on delay-period activity in the prefrontal cortex and the visual association cortex., 2006 Feb 15. NeuroImage. 29:1117-26. Abstractyoon2006differential_effects_of_distraction.pdf

Maintaining relevant information for later use is a critical aspect of working memory (WM). The lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and posterior sensory cortical areas appear to be important in supporting maintenance. However, the relative and unique contributions of these areas remain unclear. We have designed a WM paradigm with distraction to probe the contents of maintenance representations in these regions. During delayed recognition trials of faces, selective interference was evident behaviorally with face distraction leading to significantly worse performance than with scene distraction. Event-related fMRI of the human brain showed that maintenance activity in the lateral PFC, but not in visual association cortex (VAC), was selectively disrupted by face distraction. Additionally, the functional connectivity between the lateral PFC and the VAC was perturbed during these trials. We propose a hierarchical and distributed model of active maintenance in which the lateral PFC codes for abstracted mnemonic information, while sensory areas represent specific features of the memoranda. Furthermore, persistent coactivation between the PFC and sensory areas may be a mechanism by which information is actively maintained.

Ranganath, C, D’Esposito.  2005.  Directing the mind’s eye: prefrontal, inferior and medial temporal mechanisms for visual working memory., 2005 Apr. Current opinion in neurobiology. 15:175-82. Abstractr0bckq4.pdf

Human and nonhuman primates have a remarkable ability to recall, maintain and manipulate visual images in the absence of external sensory stimulation. Evidence from lesion, single-unit neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies shows that these visual working memory processes are consistently associated with sustained activity in object-selective inferior temporal neurons. Furthermore, results from these studies suggest that mnemonic activity in the inferior temporal cortex is, in turn, supported by top-down inputs from multimodal regions in prefrontal and medial temporal cortex, and under some circumstances, from the hippocampus.

Lee, TG, Blumenfeld RS, D'Esposito M.  2013.  Disruption of dorsolateral but not ventrolateral prefrontal cortex improves unconscious perceptual memories., 2013 Aug 7. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 33(32):13233-7. Abstract2013_lee.pdf

Attentive encoding often leads to more accurate responses in recognition memory tests. However, previous studies have described conditions under which taxing explicit memory resources by attentional distraction improved perceptual recognition memory without awareness. These findings lead to the hypothesis that explicit memory processes mediated by the prefrontal cortex (PFC) can interfere with memory processes necessary for implicit recognition memory. The present study directly tested this hypothesis by applying transcranial magnetic stimulation separately over either dorsolateral (DLPFC) or ventrolateral PFC (VLPFC) in humans before performance of a visual memory task. Disruption of DLPFC function led to improvement in recognition accuracy only in responses in which the participant's awareness of memory retrieval was absent. However, disruption of VLPFC function led to subtle shifts in recollection and familiarity accuracy. We conclude that explicit memory processes mediated by the DLPFC can indirectly interfere with implicit recognition memory.

Druzgal, TJ, D’Esposito.  2003.  Dissecting contributions of prefrontal cortex and fusiform face area to face working memory., 2003 Aug 15. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. 15:771-84. Abstract2003druzgal.pdf

Interactions between prefrontal cortex (PFC) and stimulus-specific visual cortical association areas are hypothesized to mediate visual working memory in behaving monkeys. To clarify the roles for homologous regions in humans, event-related fMRI was used to assess neural activity in PFC and fusiform face area (FFA) of subjects performing a delay-recognition task for faces. In both PFC and FFA, activity increased parametrically with memory load during encoding and maintenance of face stimuli, despite quantitative differences in the magnitude of activation. Moreover, timing differences in PFC and FFA activation during memory encoding and retrieval implied a context dependence in the flow of neural information. These results support existing neurophysiological models of visual working memory developed in the nonhuman primate.

D’Esposito, McGlinchey-Berroth R, Alexander M, Verfaellie M, Milberg WP.  1993.  Dissociable cognitive and neural mechanisms of unilateral visual neglect., 1993 Dec. Neurology. 43:2638-44. Abstract

We administered two experimental tasks to 16 patients with neglect following unilateral right hemisphere strokes, designed to probe processing of information in the neglected left visual field. A semantic priming/lexical decision task examined implicit processing of stimuli presented to the neglected field, and a discrimination task required explicit recognition of the same stimuli. We grouped patients according to three patterns of performance: (1) poor discrimination in the left visual field but intact priming, (2) normal priming and discrimination in both fields, and (3) normal priming but poor discrimination in both fields. Although patients in group 1 had posterior lesions, patients in groups 2 and 3 had extensive deep anterior lesions. These results suggest that the clinical phenomenon of unilateral visual neglect can be the surface manifestation of deficits in two different and interacting processes–attentional processes (group 1) and intentional processes (group 2)–or it may be a global attentional disturbance superimposed on these deficits (group 3).

Ranganath, C, Yonelinas AP, Cohen MX, Dy CJ, Tom SM, D’Esposito.  2004.  Dissociable correlates of recollection and familiarity within the medial temporal lobes., 2004. Neuropsychologia. 42:2-13. Abstractranganath_etal_neuropsychol_2004.pdf

Regions in the medial temporal lobes (MTL) have long been implicated in the formation of new memories for events, however, it is unclear whether different MTL subregions support different memory processes. Here, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the degree to which two recognition memory processes-recollection and familiarity-were supported by different MTL subregions. Results showed that encoding activity in the rhinal cortex selectively predicted familiarity-based recognition, whereas, activity in the hippocampus and posterior parahippocampal cortex selectively predicted recollection. Collectively, these results support the view that different subregions within the MTL memory system implement unique encoding processes that differentially support familiarity and recollection.

Stelzel, C, Fiebach CJ, Cools R, Tafazoli S, D'Esposito M.  2013.  Dissociable fronto-striatal effects of dopamine D2 receptor stimulation on cognitive versus motor flexibility., 2013 Apr 11. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior. Abstract2013_stelzel.pdf

Genetic and pharmacological studies suggest an important role of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) in flexible behavioral adaptation, mostly shown in reward-based learning paradigms. Recent evidence from imaging genetics indicates that also intentional cognitive flexibility, associated with lateral frontal cortex, is affected by variations in DRD2 signaling. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study, we tested the effects of a direct pharmacological manipulation of DRD2 stimulation on intentional flexibility in a task-switching context, requiring switches between cognitive task rules and between response hands. In a double blind, counterbalanced design, participants received either a low dose of the DRD2 agonist bromocriptine or a placebo in two separate sessions. Bromocriptine modulated the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal during rule switching: rule-switching-related activity in the left posterior lateral frontal cortex and in the striatum was increased compared to placebo, at comparable performance levels. Fronto-striatal connectivity under bromocriptine was slightly increased for rule switches compared to rule repetitions. Hand-switching-related activity, in contrast, was reduced under bromocriptine in sensorimotor regions. Our results provide converging evidence for an involvement of DRD2 signaling in fronto-striatal mechanisms underlying intentional flexibility, and indicate that the neural mechanisms underlying different types of flexibility (cognitive vs motor) are affected differently by increased dopaminergic stimulation.

Cameron, IGM, Riddle JM, D'Esposito M.  2015.  Dissociable Roles of Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex and Frontal Eye Fields During Saccadic Eye Movements., 2015. Frontiers in human neuroscience. 9:613. Abstract

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the frontal eye fields (FEF) have both been implicated in the executive control of saccades, yet possible dissociable roles of each region have not been established. Specifically, both establishing a "task set" as well as suppressing an inappropriate response have been linked to DLPFC and FEF activity, with behavioral outcome measures of these mechanisms mainly being the percentage of pro-saccade errors made on anti-saccade trials. We used continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) to disrupt FEF or DLPFC function in humans during an anti-saccade task to assess the causal role of these regions in these executive control processes, and in programming saccades towards (pro-saccade) or away (anti-saccade) from visual targets. After right FEF cTBS, as compared to control cTBS to the right primary somatosensory cortex (rS1), anti-saccade amplitude of the first saccade decreased and the number of anti-saccades to acquire final position increased; however direction errors to the visual target were not different. In contrast, after left DLPFC cTBS, as compared to left S1 cTBS, subjects displayed greater direction errors for contralateral anti-saccades; however, there were no impairments on the number of saccades or the saccade amplitude. These results are consistent with the notion that DLPFC is necessary for executive control of saccades, whereas FEF is necessary for visuo-motor aspects of anti-saccade programming.

Rypma, B, Berger JS, Genova HM, Rebbechi D, D’Esposito.  2005.  Dissociating age-related changes in cognitive strategy and neural efficiency using event-related fMRI., 2005 Aug. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior. 41:582-94. Abstract2005rypma.pdf

We used event-related fMRI to measure brain activity while younger and older adults performed an item-recognition task in which the memory-set size varied between 1 and 8 letters. Each trial was composed of a 4-second encoding period in which subjects viewed random letter strings, a 12-second retention period and a 2-second retrieval period in which subjects decided whether a single probe letter was or was not part of the memory set. For both groups, reaction time increased and accuracy decreased with increasing memory set-size. There were minimal age-related differences in activation patterns with increasing memory set-size in prefrontal cortex (PFC). Regression analyses of individual subjects’ performance and cortical activity indicated that speed and accuracy accounted for considerable variance in dorsal and ventral PFC activity during encoding and retrieval. These results suggest that younger and older adults utilize similar working memory (WM) strategies to accommodate increasing memory demand. They support a model of cognitive slowing in which processing rate is related to neural efficiency.

Postle, BR, D’Esposito.  1999.  Dissociation of human caudate nucleus activity in spatial and nonspatial working memory: an event-related fMRI study., 1999 Jul 16. Brain research. Cognitive brain research. 8:107-15. Abstractdissociation.pdf

We employed a novel event-related fMRI design and analysis technique to explore caudate nucleus contributions to spatial and nonspatial working memory. The spatial condition of a delayed-response task revealed greater mnemonic activation in four of six subjects when the delay period preceded immediately a probe stimulus requiring an overt motor response, as contrasted with a probe requiring no response. This effect was not seen in frontal or parietal cortical areas, and was seen in the caudate nucleus in a formally identical object condition in just one of six subjects. We hypothesized that this pattern of activity represented spatially dependent motor preparation. A second experiment confirmed this hypothesis: delay-period activity of the caudate nucleus showed greater time dependence in a task that featured spatial and motoric memory demands than in a comparable nonspatial task that featured the same response contingencies. These results suggest an important subcortical locus of the dissociation between spatial and nonspatial working memory, and a role for the human caudate nucleus in the integration of spatially coded mnemonic information with motor preparation to guide behavior.

Chapman, SB, Aslan S, Spence JS, Keebler MW, DeFina LF, Didehbani N, Perez AM, Lu H, D'Esposito M.  2016.  Distinct Brain and Behavioral Benefits from Cognitive vs. Physical Training: A Randomized Trial in Aging Adults., 2016. Frontiers in human neuroscience. 10:338. Abstract

Insidious declines in normal aging are well-established. Emerging evidence suggests that non-pharmacological interventions, specifically cognitive and physical training, may counter diminishing age-related cognitive and brain functions. This randomized trial compared effects of two training protocols: cognitive training (CT) vs. physical training (PT) on cognition and brain function in adults 56-75 years. Sedentary participants (N = 36) were randomized to either CT or PT group for 3 h/week over 12 weeks. They were assessed at baseline-, mid-, and post-training using neurocognitive, MRI, and physiological measures. The CT group improved on executive function whereas PT group's memory was enhanced. Uniquely deploying cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral vascular reactivity (CVR) MRI, the CT cohort showed increased CBF within the prefrontal and middle/posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) without change to CVR compared to PT group. Improvements in complex abstraction were positively associated with increased resting CBF in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). Exercisers with higher CBF in hippocampi bilaterally showed better immediate memory. The preliminary evidence indicates that increased cognitive and physical activity improves brain health in distinct ways. Reasoning training enhanced frontal networks shown to be integral to top-down cognitive control and brain resilience. Evidence of increased resting CBF without changes to CVR implicates increased neural health rather than improved vascular response. Exercise did not improve cerebrovascular response, although CBF increased in hippocampi of those with memory gains. Distinct benefits incentivize testing effectiveness of combined protocols to strengthen brain health.

DeGutis, J, D’Esposito.  2007.  Distinct mechanisms in visual category learning., 2007 Sep. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience. 7:251-9. Abstract2007degutis2.pdf

The ways in which visual categories are learned, and in which well-established categories are represented and retrieved, are fundamental issues of cognitive neuroscience. Researchers have typically studied these issues separately, and the transition from the initial phase of category learning to expertise is poorly characterized. The acquisition of novel categories has been shown to depend on the striatum, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, whereas visual category expertise has been shown to involve changes in inferior temporal cortex. The goal of the present experiment is to understand the respective roles of these brain regions in the transition from initial learning to expertise when category judgments are being made. Subjects were explicitly trained, over 2 days, to classify realistic faces. Subjects then performed the categorization task during fMRI scanning, as well as a perceptual matching task, in order to characterize how brain regions respond to these faces when not explicitly categorizing them. We found that, during face categorization, face-selective inferotemporal cortex, lateral prefrontal cortex, and dorsal striatum are more responsive to faces near the category boundary, which are most difficult to categorize. In contrast, the hippocampus and left superior frontal sulcus responded most to faces farthest from the category boundary. These dissociable effects suggest that there are several distinct neural mechanisms involved in categorization, and provide a framework for understanding the contribution of each of these brain regions in categorization.

Sreenivasan, KK, Vytlacil J, D'Esposito M.  2014.  Distributed and Dynamic Storage of Working Memory Stimulus Information in Extrastriate Cortex., 2014 Jan 6. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. Abstract

The predominant neurobiological model of working memory (WM) posits that stimulus information is stored via stable elevated activity within highly selective neurons. On the basis of this model, which we refer to as the canonical model, the storage of stimulus information is largely associated with lateral pFC (lPFC). A growing number of studies describe results that cannot be fully explained by the canonical model, suggesting that it is in need of revision. In this study, we directly test key elements of the canonical model. We analyzed fMRI data collected as participants performed a task requiring WM for faces and scenes. Multivariate decoding procedures identified patterns of activity containing information about the items maintained in WM (faces, scenes, or both).Although information about WM items was identified in extrastriate visual cortex (EC) and lPFC, only EC exhibited a pattern of results consistent with a sensory representation. Information in both regions persisted even in the absence of elevated activity, suggesting that elevated population activity may not represent the storage of information in WM. Additionally, we observed that WM information was distributed across EC neural populations that exhibited a broad range of selectivity for the WM items rather than restricted to highly selective EC populations. Finally, we determined that activity patterns coding for WM information were not stable, but instead varied over the course of a trial, indicating that the neural code for WM information is dynamic rather than static. Together, these findings challenge the canonical model of WM.

Wallace, DL, Vytlacil JJ, Nomura EM, Gibbs SE, D’Esposito.  2011.  The dopamine agonist bromocriptine differentially affects fronto-striatal functional connectivity during working memory., 2011. Frontiers in human neuroscience. 5:32. Abstract2011_wallace.pdf

We investigated the effect of bromocriptine, a dopamine agonist, on individual differences in behavior as well as frontal-striatal connectivity during a working memory task. After dopaminergic augmentation, frontal-striatal connectivity in low working memory capacity individuals increases, corresponding with behavioral improvement whereas decreases in connectivity in high working memory capacity individuals are associated with poorer behavioral performance. These findings corroborate an inverted U-shape response of dopamine function in behavioral performance and provide insight on the corresponding neural mechanisms.

Aarts, E, Wallace DL, Dang LC, Jagust WJ, Cools R, D'Esposito M.  2014.  Dopamine and the Cognitive Downside of a Promised Bonus., 2014 Feb 13. Psychological science. Abstract

It is often assumed that the promise of a monetary bonus improves cognitive control. We show that in fact appetitive motivation can also impair cognitive control, depending on baseline levels of dopamine-synthesis capacity in the striatum. These data not only demonstrate that appetitive motivation can have paradoxical detrimental effects for cognitive control but also provide a mechanistic account of these effects.

Berry, AS, Shah VD, Furman DJ, White RL, Baker SL, O'Neil JP, Janabi M, D'Esposito M, Jagust WJ.  2017.  Dopamine Synthesis Capacity is Associated with D2/3 Receptor Binding but not Dopamine Release., 2017 Aug 17. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Abstract

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging allows the estimation of multiple aspects of dopamine function including dopamine synthesis capacity, dopamine release, and D2/3 receptor binding. Though dopaminergic dysregulation characterizes a number of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and addiction, there has been relatively little investigation into the nature of relationships across dopamine markers within healthy individuals. Here we used PET imaging in 40 healthy adults to compare, within individuals, estimates of dopamine synthesis capacity (Ki) using 6-[(18)F]fluoro-l-m-tyrosine ([(18)F]FMT; a substrate for aromatic amino acid decarboxylase), baseline D2/3 receptor binding potential using [(11)C]raclopride (a weak competitive D2/3 receptor antagonist), and dopamine release using [(11)C]raclopride paired with oral methylphenidate administration. Methylphenidate increases synaptic dopamine by blocking the dopamine transporter. We estimated dopamine release by contrasting baseline D2/3 receptor binding and D2/3 receptor binding following methylphenidate. Analysis of relationships among the three measurements within striatal regions of interest revealed a positive correlation between [(18)F]FMT Ki and the baseline (placebo) [(11)C]raclopride measure, such that participants with greater synthesis capacity showed higher D2/3 receptor binding potential. In contrast, there was no relationship between [(18)F]FMT and methylphenidate-induced [(11)C]raclopride displacement. These findings shed light on the nature of regulation between pre- and postsynaptic dopamine function in healthy adults, which may serve as a template from which to identify and describe alteration with disease.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 17 August 2017. doi:10.1038/npp.2017.180.

Bloemendaal, M, van Schouwenburg MR, Miyakawa A, Aarts E, D'Esposito M, Cools R.  2014.  Dopaminergic modulation of distracter-resistance and prefrontal delay period signal., 2014 Oct 11. Psychopharmacology. Abstract

Dopamine has long been implicated in the online maintenance of information across short delays. Specifically, dopamine has been proposed to modulate the strength of working memory representations in the face of intervening distracters. This hypothesis has not been tested in humans. We fill this gap using pharmacological neuroimaging. Healthy young subjects were scanned after intake of the dopamine receptor agonist bromocriptine or placebo (in a within-subject, counterbalanced, and double-blind design). During scanning, subjects performed a delayed match-to-sample task with face stimuli. A face or scene distracter was presented during the delay period (between the cue and the probe). Bromocriptine altered distracter-resistance, such that it impaired performance after face relative to scene distraction. Individual differences in the drug effect on distracter-resistance correlated negatively with drug effects on delay period signal in the prefrontal cortex, as well as on functional connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the fusiform face area. These results provide evidence for the hypothesis that dopaminergic modulation of the prefrontal cortex alters resistance of working memory representations to distraction. Moreover, we show that the effects of dopamine on the distracter-resistance of these representations are accompanied by modulation of the functional strength of connections between the prefrontal cortex and stimulus-specific posterior cortex.

Cools, R, D'Esposito M.  2009.  Dopaminergic modulation of flexible cognitive control in humans. Dopamine Handbook. , Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press
Nomura, EM, Gratton C, Visser RM, Kayser A, Perez F, D’Esposito.  2010.  Double dissociation of two cognitive control networks in patients with focal brain lesions., 2010 Jun 29. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107:12017-22. Abstract2010_nomura.pdf

Neuroimaging studies of cognitive control have identified two distinct networks with dissociable resting state connectivity patterns. This study, in patients with heterogeneous damage to these networks, demonstrates network independence through a double dissociation of lesion location on two different measures of network integrity: functional correlations among network nodes and within-node graph theory network properties. The degree of network damage correlates with a decrease in functional connectivity within that network while sparing the nonlesioned network. Graph theory properties of intact nodes within the damaged network show evidence of dysfunction compared with the undamaged network. The effect of anatomical damage thus extends beyond the lesioned area, but remains within the bounds of the existing network connections. Together this evidence suggests that networks defined by their role in cognitive control processes exhibit independence in resting data.

Rissman, J, Gazzaley A, D’Esposito.  2008.  Dynamic adjustments in prefrontal, hippocampal, and inferior temporal interactions with increasing visual working memory load., 2008 Jul. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). 18:1618-29. Abstract2008_rissman.pdf

The maintenance of visual stimuli across a delay interval in working memory tasks is thought to involve reverberant neural communication between the prefrontal cortex and posterior visual association areas. Recent studies suggest that the hippocampus might also contribute to this retention process, presumably via reciprocal interactions with visual regions. To characterize the nature of these interactions, we performed functional connectivity analysis on an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging data set in which participants performed a delayed face recognition task. As the number of faces that participants were required to remember was parametrically increased, the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) showed a linearly decreasing degree of functional connectivity with the fusiform face area (FFA) during the delay period. In contrast, the hippocampus linearly increased its delay period connectivity with both the FFA and the IFG as the mnemonic load increased. Moreover, the degree to which participants’ FFA showed a load-dependent increase in its connectivity with the hippocampus predicted the degree to which its connectivity with the IFG decreased with load. Thus, these neural circuits may dynamically trade off to accommodate the particular mnemonic demands of the task, with IFG-FFA interactions mediating maintenance at lower loads and hippocampal interactions supporting retention at higher loads.

Lee, TG, D'Esposito M.  2012.  The Dynamic Nature of Top-Down Signals Originating from Prefrontal Cortex: A Combined fMRI-TMS Study., 2012 Oct 31. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 32(44):15458-66. Abstract2012_lee.pdf

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is proposed to be the source of top-down signals that can modulate extrastriate visual processing in accordance with behavioral goals, yet little direct causal evidence for this hypothesis exists. Using theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation, we disrupted PFC function in human participants before performing a working memory task during fMRI scanning. PFC disruption decreased the tuning of extrastriate cortex responses, coinciding with decrements in working memory performance. We also found that activity in the homologous PFC region in the nonstimulated hemisphere predicted performance following disruption. Specifically, those participants with greater homologous PFC activity and greater connectivity between this region and extrastriate cortex were the most resistant to PFC disruption. These findings provide evidence for a compensatory mechanism following insults to the brain, and insight into the dynamic nature of top-down signals originating from the PFC.

E
Lorenc, ES, Lee TG, Chen AJ-W, D'Esposito M.  2015.  The Effect of Disruption of Prefrontal Cortical Function with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Visual Working Memory., 2015. Frontiers in systems neuroscience. 9:169. Abstract

It is proposed that feedback signals from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) to extrastriate cortex are essential for goal-directed processing, maintenance, and selection of information in visual working memory (VWM). In a previous study, we found that disruption of PFC function with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy individuals impaired behavioral performance on a face/scene matching task and decreased category-specific tuning in extrastriate cortex as measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this study, we investigated the effect of disruption of left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) function on the fidelity of neural representations of two distinct information codes: (1) the stimulus category and (2) the goal-relevance of viewed stimuli. During fMRI scanning, subjects were presented face and scene images in pseudo-random order and instructed to remember either faces or scenes. Within both anatomical and functional regions of interest (ROIs), a multi-voxel pattern classifier was used to quantitatively assess the fidelity of activity patterns representing stimulus category: whether a face or a scene was presented on each trial, and goal relevance, whether the presented image was task relevant (i.e., a face is relevant in a "Remember Faces" block, but irrelevant in a "Remember Scenes" block). We found a reduction in the fidelity of the stimulus category code in visual cortex after left IFG disruption, providing causal evidence that lateral PFC modulates object category codes in visual cortex during VWM. In addition, we found that IFG disruption caused a reduction in the fidelity of the goal relevance code in a distributed set of brain regions. These results suggest that the IFG is involved in determining the task-relevance of visual input and communicating that information to a network of regions involved in further processing during VWM. Finally, we found that participants who exhibited greater fidelity of the goal relevance code in the non-disrupted right IFG after TMS performed the task with the highest accuracy.

Rissman, J, Gazzaley A, D’Esposito.  2009.  The effect of non-visual working memory load on top-down modulation of visual processing., 2009 Jun. Neuropsychologia. 47:1637-46. Abstract2009rissmanneuropsychologia.pdf

While a core function of the working memory (WM) system is the active maintenance of behaviorally relevant sensory representations, it is also critical that distracting stimuli are appropriately ignored. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the role of domain-general WM resources in the top-down attentional modulation of task-relevant and irrelevant visual representations. In our dual-task paradigm, each trial began with the auditory presentation of six random (high load) or sequentially ordered (low load) digits. Next, two relevant visual stimuli (e.g., faces), presented amongst two temporally interspersed visual distractors (e.g., scenes), were to be encoded and maintained across a 7-s delay interval, after which memory for the relevant images and digits was probed. When taxed by high load digit maintenance, participants exhibited impaired performance on the visual WM task and a selective failure to attenuate the neural processing of task-irrelevant scene stimuli. The over-processing of distractor scenes under high load was indexed by elevated encoding activity in a scene-selective region-of-interest relative to low load and passive viewing control conditions, as well as by improved long-term recognition memory for these items. In contrast, the load manipulation did not affect participants’ ability to upregulate activity in this region when scenes were task-relevant. These results highlight the critical role of domain-general WM resources in the goal-directed regulation of distractor processing. Moreover, the consequences of increased WM load in young adults closely resemble the effects of cognitive aging on distractor filtering [Gazzaley, A., Cooney, J. W., Rissman, J., & D’Esposito, M. (2005). Top-down suppression deficit underlies working memory impairment in normal aging. Nature Neuroscience 8, 1298-1300], suggesting the possibility of a common underlying mechanism.

D’Esposito, Zarahn E, Aguirre GK, Rypma B.  1999.  The effect of normal aging on the coupling of neural activity to the bold hemodynamic response., 1999 Jul. NeuroImage. 10:6-14. Abstractagingeffect.pdf

The use of functional neuroimaging to test hypotheses regarding age-related changes in the neural substrates of cognitive processes relies on assumptions regarding the coupling of neural activity to neuroimaging signal. Differences in neuroimaging signal response between young and elderly subjects can be mapped directly to differences in neural response only if such coupling does not change with age. Here we examined spatial and temporal characteristics of the BOLD fMRI hemodynamic response in primary sensorimotor cortex in young and elderly subjects during the performance of a simple reaction time task. We found that 75% of elderly subjects (n = 20) exhibited a detectable voxel-wise relationship with the behavioral paradigm in this region as compared to 100% young subjects (n = 32). The median number of suprathreshold voxels in the young subjects was greater than four times that of the elderly subjects. Young subjects had a slightly greater signal:noise per voxel than the elderly subjects that was attributed to a greater level of noise per voxel in the elderly subjects. The evidence did not support the idea that the greater head motion observed in the elderly was the cause of this greater voxel-wise noise. There were no significant differences between groups in either the shape of the hemodynamic response or in its the within-group variability, although the former evidenced a near significant trend. The overall finding that some aspects of the hemodynamic coupling between neural activity and BOLD fMRI signal change with age cautions against simple interpretations of the results of imaging studies that compare young and elderly subjects.

D’Esposito, Zarahn E, Aguirre GK, Shin RK, Auerbach P, Detre JA.  1997.  The effect of pacing of experimental stimuli on observed functional MRI activity., 1997 Aug. NeuroImage. 6:113-21. Abstractpacing.pdf

Neuroimaging activation studies typically observe signals during two or more periods of differing cognitive activity which are then analyzed by a subtraction to test for localized neuroanatomical dissociations between cognitive tasks. Significant activity found between task conditions is frequently assumed to reflect a novel cognitive process present in one task and not the other. We present a conceptual framework that considers the neural mechanisms underlying such observed neuroimaging changes. We propose that neuroimaging experiments which present stimuli at a fixed pace (where each trial takes the same amount of time) will be sensitive to changes in both duration and intensity of neural processing. In contrast, the signal observed during a self-paced design is derived from neural processing averaged over the reaction time and hence could be less sensitive to differences in duration of neural processing. As an empirical demonstration of these ideas, we studied normal subjects using echoplanar functional MRI during two visuospatial tasks (matching of either ROTATED or NONROTATED stimuli) performed using FIXED and SELF-PACED designs. In both pacing designs, reaction times were greater in the ROTATED than NONROTATED task, interpreted as a greater duration of neural processing during the ROTATED compared to the NONROTATED task. In the FIXED-PACED design, significantly greater signal was present within a parieto-occipital cortical region during the ROTATED task compared to the NONROTATED task. This difference was not observed during the SELF-PACED design. This result illustrates the importance of considering trial pacing in the interpretation of functional neuroimaging activation studies.

Fegen, D, Buchsbaum BR, D'Esposito M.  2014.  The effect of rehearsal rate and memory load on verbal working memory., 2014 Oct 23. NeuroImage. 105C:120-131. Abstract

While many neuroimaging studies have investigated verbal working memory (WM) by manipulating memory load, the subvocal rehearsal rate at these various memory loads has generally been left uncontrolled. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate how mnemonic load and the rate of subvocal rehearsal modulate patterns of activity in the core neural circuits underlying verbal working memory. Using fMRI in healthy subjects, we orthogonally manipulated subvocal rehearsal rate and memory load in a verbal WM task with long 45-s delay periods. We found that middle frontal gyrus (MFG) and superior parietal lobule (SPL) exhibited memory load effects primarily early in the delay period and did not exhibit rehearsal rate effects. In contrast, we found that inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), premotor cortex (PM) and Sylvian-parietal-temporal region (area Spt) exhibited approximately linear memory load and rehearsal rate effects, with rehearsal rate effects lasting through the entire delay period. These results indicate that IFG, PM and area Spt comprise the core articulatory rehearsal areas involved in verbal WM, while MFG and SPL are recruited in a general supervisory role once a memory load threshold in the core rehearsal network has been exceeded.

Kimberg, DY, D’Esposito, Farah MJ.  1997.  Effects of bromocriptine on human subjects depend on working memory capacity., 1997 Nov 10. Neuroreport. 8:3581-5. Abstractkinberg1997.pdf

Pharmacological manipulation of brain dopamine concentration affects visuospatial working memory in humans and in animals, the latter effects localized to the prefrontal cortex. However, the effects of dopamine agonists on humans are poorly understood. We hypothesized that bromocriptine would have an effect on cognitive functions associated with the prefrontal cortex via its effects on cortical dopamine receptors and on subcortical receptors in areas that project to the neocortex. We found that the effect of bromocriptine on young normal subjects depended on the subjects’ working memory capacity. High-capacity subjects performed more poorly on the drug, while low-capacity subjects improved. These results demonstrate an empirical link between a dopamine-mediated working memory system and higher cognitive function in humans.

Thompson-Schill, SL, Jonides J, Marshuetz C, Smith EE, D’Esposito, Kan IP, Knight RT, Swick D.  2002.  Effects of frontal lobe damage on interference effects in working memory., 2002 Jun. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience. 2:109-20. Abstractthompsonschill2002.pdf

Working memory is hypothesized to comprise a collection of distinct components or processes, each of which may have a unique neural substrate. Recent neuroimaging studies have isolated a region of the left inferior frontal gyrus that appears to be related specifically to one such component: resolving interference from previous items in working memory. In the present study, we examined working memory in patients with unilateral frontal lobe lesions by using a modified version of an item recognition task in which interference from previous trials was manipulated. In particular, we focused on patient R.C., whose lesion uniquely impinged on the region identified in the neuroimaging studies of interference effects. We measured baseline working memory performance and interference effects in R.C. and other frontal patients and in age-matched control subjects and young control subjects. Comparisons of each of these groups supported the following conclusions. Normal aging is associated with changes to both working memory and interference effects. Patients with frontal damage exhibited further declines in working memory but normal interference effects, with the exception of R.C., who exhibited a pronounced interference effect on both response time and accuracy. We propose that the left inferior frontal gyrus subserves a general, nonmnemonic function of selecting relevant information in the face of competing alternatives and that this function may be required by some working memory tasks.

Blumenfeld, RS, Lee T, D'Esposito M.  2013.  The effects of lateral prefrontal transcranial magnetic stimulation on item memory encoding., 2013 Dec 4. Neuropsychologia. Abstract

Previous neuroimaging research has established that the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is involved in long-term memory (LTM) encoding for individual items. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is implicated less frequently, and one theory that has gained support to explain this discrepancy is that DLPFC is involved in forming item-item relational but not item LTM. Given that neuroimaging results are correlational, complimentary methods such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have been used to test causal hypotheses generated from imaging data. Most TMS studies of LTM encoding have found that disruption of lateral PFC activity impairs subsequent memory. However these studies have lacked methods to precisely localize and directly compare TMS effects from frontal subregions implicated by the neuroimaging literature. Here, we target specific subregions of lateral PFC with TMS to test the prediction from the item/relational framework that temporary disruption of VLPFC during encoding will impair subsequent memory whereas TMS to DLPFC during item encoding will not. Frontal TMS was administered prior to a LTM encoding task in which participants were presented with a list of individual nouns and asked to judge whether each noun was concrete or abstract. After a 40min delay period, item recognition memory was tested. Results indicate that VLPFC and DLPFC TMS have differential effects on subsequent item memory. VLPFC TMS reliably disrupted subsequent item memory whereas DLPFC TMS led to numerical enhancement in item memory, relative to TMS to a control region.

Peters, J, D'Esposito M.  2016.  Effects of Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex Lesions on Self-Control in Intertemporal Choice., 2016 Aug 31. Current biology : CB. Abstract

Many decisions involve a trade-off between the temporal proximity of a reward and its magnitude. A range of clinical conditions are associated with poor self-control during such intertemporal choices, such that smaller rewards that are received sooner are preferred over larger rewards that are received later to a greater extent [1, 2]. According to a prominent neural model of self-control [3-6], subjective reward values are represented in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) at the time of choice [7-9]. Successful self-control in this model is then thought to depend on a modulation of these mOFC value representations via the lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) [3, 6]. Here we directly tested three key predictions of this model in patients with lesions to the mOFC (n = 9) and matched controls (n = 19). First, we show that mOFC lesions disrupt choice-free valuation ratings. This finding provides causal evidence for a role of the mOFC in reward valuation and contrasts with the effects of lPFC disruption [6]. Second, we show that mOFC damage indeed decreases self-control during intertemporal choice, replicating previous findings [10]. Third, extending these previous observations, we show that the effect of mOFC damage on intertemporal choice depends on the actual self-control demands of the task. Our findings thus provide causal evidence for a role of mOFC in reward valuation and are compatible with the idea that mOFC damage affects self-control specifically under conditions that might normally require a modulation of mOFC value representations, e.g., by the lPFC.

Curtis, CE, D’Esposito.  2004.  The effects of prefrontal lesions on working memory performance and theory., 2004 Dec. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience. 4:528-39. Abstractcurtis2005the_effects_of_prefrontal_lesions_on_working_memory_performance_and_theory.pdf

The effects of experimental lesions of the monkey prefrontal cortex have played a predominant role in current conceptualizations of the functional organization of the lateral prefrontal cortex, especially with regard to working memory. The loss or sparing of certain performance abilities has been shown to be attributable to differences in the specific requirements of behavioral testing (e.g., spatial vs. non-spatial memoranda) along with differences in the specific locations of applied ablations (e.g., dorsal vs. ventral prefrontal cortex). Such findings, which have accumulated now for over a century, have led to widespread acceptance that the dorsolateral and ventrolateral aspects of the prefrontal cortex may perform different, specialized roles in higher order cognition. Nonetheless, it remains unclear and controversial how the lateral prefrontal cortex is functionally organized. Two main views propose different types of functional specialization of the dorsal and ventral prefrontal cortex. The first contends that the lateral prefrontal cortex is segregated according to the processing of spatial and nonspatial domains of information. The second contends that domain specialization is not the key to the organization of the prefrontal cortex, but that instead, the dorsal and ventral prefrontal cortices perform qualitatively different operations. This report critically reviews all relevant monkey lesion studies that have served as the foundation for current theories regarding the functional organization of the prefrontal cortex. Our goals are to evaluate how well the existing lesion data support each theory and to enumerate caveats that must be considered when interpreting the relevant literature.

Thompson-Schill, SL, D’Esposito, Kan IP.  1999.  Effects of repetition and competition on activity in left prefrontal cortex during word generation., 1999 Jul. Neuron. 23:513-22. Abstractthompsonschill1999.pdf

Neuroimaging studies have revealed an association between word generation and activity in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) that is attentuated with item repetition. The experiment reported here examined the effects of repeated word generation, under conditions in which completion was either decreased or increased, on activity measured during whole-brain echoplanar functional magnetic resonance imaging. Activity in left IFG decreased during repetition conditions that reduced competition but increased during repetition conditions that increased competition; this pattern was contrasted to repetition effects observed in other cortical areas, specifically regions of left temporal cortex. The increase in left IFG activity, which is not predicted by a simple semantic retrieval account of prefrontal function, is consistent with the hypothesis that left IFG subserves the selection of semantic knowledge among competing alternatives.

Postle, BR, Desposito M, Corkin S.  2005.  Effects of verbal and nonverbal interference on spatial and object visual working memory., 2005 Mar. Memory & cognition. 33:203-12. Abstract2005postle.pdf

We tested the hypothesis that a verbal coding mechanism is necessarily engaged by object, but not spatial, visual working memory tasks. We employed a dual-task procedure that paired n-back working memory tasks with domain-specific distractor trials inserted into each interstimulus interval of the n-back tasks. In two experiments, object n-back performance demonstrated greater sensitivity to verbal distraction, whereas spatial n-back performance demonstrated greater sensitivity to motion distraction. Visual object and spatial working memory may differ fundamentally in that the mnemonic representation of featural characteristics of objects incorporates a verbal (perhaps semantic) code, whereas the mnemonic representation of the location of objects does not. Thus, the processes supporting working memory for these two types of information may differ in more ways than those dictated by the "what/where" organization of the visual system, a fact more easily reconciled with a component process than a memory systems account of working memory function.

Sheridan, MA, Hinshaw S, D’Esposito.  2007.  Efficiency of the prefrontal cortex during working memory in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder., 2007 Oct. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 46:1357-66. Abstract2007sheridan.pdf

OBJECTIVE: Previous research has demonstrated that during task conditions requiring an increase in inhibitory function or working memory, children and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) exhibit greater and more varied prefrontal cortical (PFC) activation compared to age-matched control participants. This pattern may reflect cortical inefficiency. We examined this hypothesis using a working memory task in a group of adolescent girls with and without ADHD. METHOD: Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to investigate blood oxygenated level-dependent signal during a working memory task for 10 adolescents from each group, ages 11 to 17 years. We analyzed brain-behavior relationships with anatomically defined regions of interest in the PFC and primary motor cortex. RESULTS: The relationship between brain activity in the dorsolateral PFC and ventrolateral PFC and memory retrieval speed differed by group membership, whereby comparison girls had a more efficient brain-behavior relationship than girls with ADHD. There were no such group differences in brain-behavior relationships for primary motor cortex. CONCLUSIONS: These findings lend support to the idea that cognitive and behavioral deficits experienced by children and adolescents with ADHD may in part be related to relatively low efficiency of PFC function.

Zarahn, E, Aguirre GK, D’Esposito.  1997.  Empirical analyses of BOLD fMRI statistics. I. Spatially unsmoothed data collected under null-hypothesis conditions., 1997 Apr. NeuroImage. 5:179-97. Abstractempiricalboldii.pdf

Temporal autocorrelation, spatial coherency, and their effects on voxel-wise parametric statistics were examined in BOLD fMRI null-hypothesis, or "noise," datasets. Seventeen normal, young subjects were scanned using BOLD fMRI while not performing any time-locked experimental behavior. Temporal autocorrelation in these datasets was described well by a 1/frequency relationship. Voxel-wise statistical analysis of these noise datasets which assumed independence (i.e., ignored temporal autocorrelation) rejected the null hypothesis at a higher rate than specified by the nominal alpha. Temporal smoothing in conjunction with the use of a modified general linear model (Worsley and Friston, 1995, NeuroImage 2: 173-182) brought the false-positive rate closer to the nominal alpha. It was also found that the noise fMRI datasets contain spatially coherent time signals. This observed spatial coherence could not be fully explained by a continuously differentiable spatial autocovariance function and was much greater for lower temporal frequencies. Its presence made voxel-wise test statistics in a given noise dataset dependent, and thus shifted their distributions to the right or left of 0. Inclusion of a "global signal" covariate in the general linear model reduced this dependence and consequently stabilized (i.e., reduced the variance of) dataset false-positive rates.

Aguirre, GK, Zarahn E, D’Esposito.  1997.  Empirical analyses of BOLD fMRI statistics. II. Spatially smoothed data collected under null-hypothesis and experimental conditions., 1997 Apr. NeuroImage. 5:199-212. Abstractempiricalbold.pdf

In the companion to this paper (E. Zarahn, G. K. Aguirre, and M. D’Esposito, 1997, NeuroImage, 179-197), we describe an implementation of a general linear model for autocorrelated observations in which the voxel-wise false-positive rates in fMRI "noise" datasets were stabilized and brought close to theoretical values. Here, implementations of the model are tested for use with statistical parametric mapping analysis of spatially smoothed fMRI data. Analyses using varying models of intrinsic temporal autocorrelation and either including or excluding a global signal covariate were conducted upon human subject data collected under null hypothesis as well as under experimental conditions. We found that smoothing with an empirically derived impulse response function (IRF), combined with a model of the intrinsic temporal autocorrelation in spatially smoothed fMRI data, resulted in a map-wise false-positive rate which did not exceed a 5% level when a nominal alpha = 0.05 tabular threshold was applied. Use of other models of intrinsic temporal autocorrelation resulted in map-wise false-positive rates that significantly exceeded this level. fMRI data collected while subjects performed a behavioral task were used to examine (a) task-dependent global signal changes and (b) the dependence of sensitivity on the temporal smoothing kernel and inclusion/exclusion of a global signal covariate. The global signal changes within an fMRI dataset were shown to be influenced by the performance of a behavioral task. However, the inclusion of this measure as a covariate did not have an adverse affect upon our measure of sensitivity. Finally, use of an empirically derived estimate of the IRF of the system was shown to result in greater map-wise sensitivity for signal changes than the use of a broader (in time) Poisson (parameter = 8 s) kernel.

Mitchell, JM, Tavares VC, Fields HL, D’Esposito, Boettiger CA.  2007.  Endogenous opioid blockade and impulsive responding in alcoholics and healthy controls., 2007 Feb. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 32:439-49. Abstract2007mitchell.pdf

The opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone (NTX) is one of few approved treatments for alcoholism, yet the mechanism by which it reduces drinking remains unclear. In rats, NTX reduces morphine-induced impulsive choice bias; however, nothing is known about the drug’s effect on discrete aspects of impulsive behavior in humans, such as decision-making and inhibitory control. Here, we used a modified delay discounting procedure to investigate whether NTX improves decision-making or inhibitory control in humans. We measured the effect of acute NTX (50 mg) on choice between smaller sooner (SS) and larger later monetary rewards and on response errors (motor mismatch) in a high conflict condition in a group of abstinent alcoholics (AA) and healthy control subjects (CS). We previously reported that AA selected the SS option significantly more often than did CS in this paradigm. If the choice bias of AA is due to enhanced endogenous opioid signaling in response to potential reward, NTX should reduce such bias in the AA group. We found that NTX did not reliably reduce impulsive choice in the AA group; however, NTX’s effect on choice bias across individuals was robustly predictable. NTX’s effect on choice bias was significantly correlated with scores on Rotter’s Locus of Control (LOC) scale; increasingly internal LOC scores predicted increasing likelihood of impulsive choices on NTX. In addition, we found that NTX significantly enhanced control of motor responses, particularly within the CS group. These results suggest that endogenous opioids may impair response selection during decision-making under conflict, and that NTX’s effects on explicit decision-making are personality-dependent. Determining the biological basis of this dependence could have important implications for effective alcoholism treatment.

Cools, R, Miyakawa A, Sheridan M, D’Esposito.  2010.  Enhanced frontal function in Parkinson’s disease., 2010 Jan. Brain : a journal of neurology. 133:225-33. Abstract2010_cools.pdf

We investigated the role of dopamine in working memory by examining effects of withdrawing dopaminergic medication in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Resistance to distraction during a delayed response task was abnormally enhanced in Parkinson’s disease patients OFF medication relative to controls. Conversely, performance on a backward digit span test was impaired in these same Parkinson’s disease patients OFF medication. Dopaminergic medication reinstated susceptibility to distraction and backward digit span performance, so that performance of Parkinson’s disease patients ON medication did not differ from that of controls. We hypothesize that the enhanced distractor resistance and impaired backward digit span in Parkinson’s disease reflects low dopamine levels in the striatum, and perhaps upregulated frontal dopamine levels. Dopaminergic medication may reinstate distractibility by normalizing the balance between striatal and prefrontal dopamine transmission.