A new mutant mouse (lamb1t) exhibits intermittent dystonic hindlimb movements and postures when awake, and hyperextension when asleep. Experiments showed co-contraction of opposing muscle groups, and indicated that symptoms depended on the interaction of brain and spinal cord. SNP mapping and exome sequencing identified the dominant causative mutation in the Lamb1 gene. Laminins are extracellular matrix proteins, widely expressed but also known to be important in synapse structure and plasticity. In accordance, awake recording in the cerebellum detected abnormal output from a circuit of two Lamb1-expressing neurons, Purkinje cells and their deep cerebellar nucleus targets, during abnormal postures. We propose that dystonia-like symptoms result from lapses in descending inhibition, exposing excess activity in intrinsic spinal circuits that coordinate muscles. The mouse is a new model for testing how dysfunction in the CNS causes specific abnormal movements and postures.
Animal experimentation: All animal research followed the NRC Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the policies of the Massachusetts General Hospital or Albert Einstein College of Medicine: MGH IACUC approved protocol 2011N000108, and Albert Einstein approved protocol 20130801.
- Louis Ptáček, University of California, San Francisco, United States
© 2015, Liu et al.
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Cochlear implants are neuroprosthetic devices that can restore hearing in people with severe to profound hearing loss by electrically stimulating the auditory nerve. Because of physical limitations on the precision of this stimulation, the acoustic information delivered by a cochlear implant does not convey the same level of acoustic detail as that conveyed by normal hearing. As a result, speech understanding in listeners with cochlear implants is typically poorer and more effortful than in listeners with normal hearing. The brain networks supporting speech understanding in listeners with cochlear implants are not well understood, partly due to difficulties obtaining functional neuroimaging data in this population. In the current study, we assessed the brain regions supporting spoken word understanding in adult listeners with right unilateral cochlear implants (n=20) and matched controls (n=18) using high-density diffuse optical tomography (HD-DOT), a quiet and non-invasive imaging modality with spatial resolution comparable to that of functional MRI. We found that while listening to spoken words in quiet, listeners with cochlear implants showed greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex than listeners with normal hearing, specifically in a region engaged in a separate spatial working memory task. These results suggest that listeners with cochlear implants require greater cognitive processing during speech understanding than listeners with normal hearing, supported by compensatory recruitment of the left prefrontal cortex.
Sleep strongly affects synaptic strength, making it critical for cognition, especially learning and memory formation. Whether and how sleep deprivation modulates human brain physiology and cognition is not well understood. Here we examined how overnight sleep deprivation vs overnight sufficient sleep affects (a) cortical excitability, measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation, (b) inducibility of long-term potentiation (LTP)- and long-term depression (LTD)-like plasticity via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and (c) learning, memory, and attention. The results suggest that sleep deprivation upscales cortical excitability due to enhanced glutamate-related cortical facilitation and decreases and/or reverses GABAergic cortical inhibition. Furthermore, tDCS-induced LTP-like plasticity (anodal) abolishes while the inhibitory LTD-like plasticity (cathodal) converts to excitatory LTP-like plasticity under sleep deprivation. This is associated with increased EEG theta oscillations due to sleep pressure. Finally, we show that learning and memory formation, behavioral counterparts of plasticity, and working memory and attention, which rely on cortical excitability, are impaired during sleep deprivation. Our data indicate that upscaled brain excitability and altered plasticity, due to sleep deprivation, are associated with impaired cognitive performance. Besides showing how brain physiology and cognition undergo changes (from neurophysiology to higher-order cognition) under sleep pressure, the findings have implications for variability and optimal application of noninvasive brain stimulation.