The sensation of breathlessness is the most threatening symptom of respiratory disease. The different subdivisions of the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) are intricately (and differentially) involved in integrating behavioural responses to threat in animals, while the PAG has previously only been considered as a single entity in human research. Here we investigate how these individual PAG columns are differently involved with respiratory threat. Eighteen healthy subjects were conditioned to associate shapes with certain or uncertain impending respiratory load, and scanned the following day during anticipation and application of inspiratory loading using 7 T functional MRI. We showed activity in the ventrolateral PAG (vlPAG) during anticipation of resistive loading, with activity in the lateral PAG (lPAG) during resistive loading, showing spatially and temporally distinct functions within this structure. We propose that lPAG is involved with sensorimotor responses to breathlessness, while the vlPAG operates within the threat perception network for impending breathlessness.
Human subjects: The Oxfordshire Clinical Research Ethics Committee approved the study and volunteers gave written, informed consent prior to testing.
- Jan-Marino Ramirez, Seattle Children's Research Institute and University of Washington, United States
© 2016, Faull et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Evoked responses and oscillations represent two major electrophysiological phenomena in the human brain yet the link between them remains rather obscure. Here we show how most frequently studied EEG signals: the P300-evoked response and alpha oscillations (8–12 Hz) can be linked with the baseline-shift mechanism. This mechanism states that oscillations generate evoked responses if oscillations have a non-zero mean and their amplitude is modulated by the stimulus. Therefore, the following predictions should hold: (1) the temporal evolution of P300 and alpha amplitude is similar, (2) spatial localisations of the P300 and alpha amplitude modulation overlap, (3) oscillations are non-zero mean, (4) P300 and alpha amplitude correlate with cognitive scores in a similar fashion. To validate these predictions, we analysed the data set of elderly participants (N=2230, 60–82 years old), using (a) resting-state EEG recordings to quantify the mean of oscillations, (b) the event-related data, to extract parameters of P300 and alpha rhythm amplitude envelope. We showed that P300 is indeed linked to alpha rhythm, according to all four predictions. Our results provide an unifying view on the interdependency of evoked responses and neuronal oscillations and suggest that P300, at least partly, is generated by the modulation of alpha oscillations.
Perceptual decisions about sensory input are influenced by fluctuations in ongoing neural activity, most prominently driven by attention and neuromodulator systems. It is currently unknown if neuromodulator activity and attention differentially modulate perceptual decision-making and/or whether neuromodulatory systems in fact control attentional processes. To investigate the effects of two distinct neuromodulatory systems and spatial attention on perceptual decisions, we pharmacologically elevated cholinergic (through donepezil) and catecholaminergic (through atomoxetine) levels in humans performing a visuo-spatial attention task, while we measured electroencephalography (EEG). Both attention and catecholaminergic enhancement improved decision-making at the behavioral and algorithmic level, as reflected in increased perceptual sensitivity and the modulation of the drift rate parameter derived from drift diffusion modeling. Univariate analyses of EEG data time-locked to the attentional cue, the target stimulus, and the motor response further revealed that attention and catecholaminergic enhancement both modulated pre-stimulus cortical excitability, cue- and stimulus-evoked sensory activity, as well as parietal evidence accumulation signals. Interestingly, we observed both similar, unique, and interactive effects of attention and catecholaminergic neuromodulation on these behavioral, algorithmic, and neural markers of the decision-making process. Thereby, this study reveals an intricate relationship between attentional and catecholaminergic systems and advances our understanding about how these systems jointly shape various stages of perceptual decision-making.