Immersive virtual reality (VR) enables naturalistic neuroscientific studies while maintaining experimental control, but dynamic and interactive stimuli pose methodological challenges. We here probed the link between emotional arousal, a fundamental property of affective experience, and parieto-occipital alpha power under naturalistic stimulation: 37 young healthy adults completed an immersive VR experience, which included rollercoaster rides, while their EEG was recorded. They then continuously rated their subjective emotional arousal while viewing a replay of their experience. The association between emotional arousal and parieto-occipital alpha power was tested and confirmed by (1) decomposing the continuous EEG signal while maximizing the comodulation between alpha power and arousal ratings and by (2) decoding periods of high and low arousal with discriminative common spatial patterns and a Long Short-Term Memory recurrent neural network. We successfully combine EEG and a naturalistic immersive VR experience to extend previous findings on the neurophysiology of emotional arousal towards real-world neuroscience.
We did not obtain participants' consent to release their individual data. Since our analyses focus on the single-subject level, we have only limited data which are sufficiently anonymized (e.g., summarized or averaged) to be publicly shared. Wherever possible, we provide "source data" to reproduce the manuscript's tables and figures (Figures 2, 4, 8 and 10). The scripts of all analyses are available at https://github.com/SHEscher/NeVRo
- Felix Klotzsche
- Michael Gaebler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: Participants signed informed consent before their participation, and the study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Department of Psychology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (vote no. 2017-22).
- Alexander Shackman, University of Maryland, United States
© 2021, Hofmann 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.
The presynaptic protein α-synuclein (αSyn) has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In PD, the amygdala is prone to develop insoluble αSyn aggregates, and it has been suggested that circuit dysfunction involving the amygdala contributes to the psychiatric symptoms. Yet, how αSyn aggregates affect amygdala function is unknown. In this study, we examined αSyn in glutamatergic axon terminals and the impact of its aggregation on glutamatergic transmission in the basolateral amygdala (BLA). We found that αSyn is primarily present in the vesicular glutamate transporter 1-expressing (vGluT1+) terminals in mouse BLA, which is consistent with higher levels of αSyn expression in vGluT1+ glutamatergic neurons in the cerebral cortex relative to the vGluT2+ glutamatergic neurons in the thalamus. We found that αSyn aggregation selectively decreased the cortico-BLA, but not the thalamo-BLA, transmission; and that cortico-BLA synapses displayed enhanced short-term depression upon repetitive stimulation. In addition, using confocal microscopy, we found that vGluT1+ axon terminals exhibited decreased levels of soluble αSyn, which suggests that lower levels of soluble αSyn might underlie the enhanced short-term depression of cortico-BLA synapses. In agreement with this idea, we found that cortico-BLA synaptic depression was also enhanced in αSyn knockout mice. In conclusion, both basal and dynamic cortico-BLA transmission were disrupted by abnormal aggregation of αSyn and these changes might be relevant to the perturbed cortical control of the amygdala that has been suggested to play a role in psychiatric symptoms in PD.
Animals can evolve dramatic sensory functions in response to environmental constraints, but little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these changes. The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, is a leading model to study genetic, behavioral, and physiological evolution by comparing eyed surface populations and blind cave populations. We compared neurophysiological responses of posterior lateral line afferent neurons and motor neurons across A. mexicanus populations to reveal how shifts in sensory function may shape behavioral diversity. These studies indicate differences in intrinsic afferent signaling and gain control across populations. Elevated endogenous afferent activity identified a lower response threshold in the lateral line of blind cavefish relative to surface fish leading to increased evoked potentials during hair cell deflection in cavefish. We next measured the effect of inhibitory corollary discharges from hindbrain efferent neurons onto afferents during locomotion. We discovered that three independently derived cavefish populations have evolved persistent afferent activity during locomotion, suggesting for the first time that partial loss of function in the efferent system can be an evolutionary mechanism for neural adaptation of a vertebrate sensory system.