Medical Bionics - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 103
Neural Responses in Parietal and Occipital Areas in Response to Visual Events Are Modulated by Prior Multisensory Stimuli
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-12-31)
The effect of multi-modal vs uni-modal prior stimuli on the subsequent processing of a simple flash stimulus was studied in the context of the audio-visual 'flash-beep' illusion, in which the number of flashes a person sees is influenced by accompanying beep stimuli. EEG recordings were made while combinations of simple visual and audio-visual stimuli were presented. The experiments found that the electric field strength related to a flash stimulus was stronger when it was preceded by a multi-modal flash/beep stimulus, compared to when it was preceded by another uni-modal flash stimulus. This difference was found to be significant in two distinct timeframes--an early timeframe, from 130-160 ms, and a late timeframe, from 300-320 ms. Source localisation analysis found that the increased activity in the early interval was localised to an area centred on the inferior and superior parietal lobes, whereas the later increase was associated with stronger activity in an area centred on primary and secondary visual cortex, in the occipital lobe. The results suggest that processing of a visual stimulus can be affected by the presence of an immediately prior multisensory event. Relatively long-lasting interactions generated by the initial auditory and visual stimuli altered the processing of a subsequent visual stimulus.
Evidence for Enhanced Multisensory Facilitation with Stimulus Relevance: An Electrophysiological Investigation
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-01-23)
Currently debate exists relating to the interplay between multisensory processes and bottom-up and top-down influences. However, few studies have looked at neural responses to newly paired audiovisual stimuli that differ in their prescribed relevance. For such newly associated audiovisual stimuli, optimal facilitation of motor actions was observed only when both components of the audiovisual stimuli were targets. Relevant auditory stimuli were found to significantly increase the amplitudes of the event-related potentials at the occipital pole during the first 100 ms post-stimulus onset, though this early integration was not predictive of multisensory facilitation. Activity related to multisensory behavioral facilitation was observed approximately 166 ms post-stimulus, at left central and occipital sites. Furthermore, optimal multisensory facilitation was found to be associated with a latency shift of induced oscillations in the beta range (14-30 Hz) at right hemisphere parietal scalp regions. These findings demonstrate the importance of stimulus relevance to multisensory processing by providing the first evidence that the neural processes underlying multisensory integration are modulated by the relevance of the stimuli being combined. We also provide evidence that such facilitation may be mediated by changes in neural synchronization in occipital and centro-parietal neural populations at early and late stages of neural processing that coincided with stimulus selection, and the preparation and initiation of motor action.
The Categorisation of Non-Categorical Colours: A Novel Paradigm in Colour Perception
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-03-25)
In this paper, we investigate a new paradigm for studying the development of the colour 'signal' by having observers discriminate and categorize the same set of controlled and calibrated cardinal coloured stimuli. Notably, in both tasks, each observer was free to decide whether two pairs of colors were the same or belonged to the same category. The use of the same stimulus set for both tasks provides, we argue, an incremental behavioural measure of colour processing from detection through discrimination to categorisation. The measured data spaces are different for the two tasks, and furthermore the categorisation data is unique to each observer. In addition, we develop a model which assumes that the principal difference between the tasks is the degree of similarity between the stimuli which has different constraints for the categorisation task compared to the discrimination task. This approach not only makes sense of the current (and associated) data but links the processes of discrimination and categorisation in a novel way and, by implication, expands upon the previous research linking categorisation to other tasks not limited to colour perception.
Involvement of the subthalamic nucleus in engagement with behaviourally relevant stimuli
In this study we investigate how the basal ganglia (BG) may process the behavioural relevance of environmental cues by recording local field potentials (LFPs) in the subthalamic nucleus of patients with Parkinson's disease who had undergone implantation of electrodes for deep brain stimulation. Fourteen patients were recorded as they performed a paradigm dissociating warning cue presentation from programming related to execution of specific tasks. Target and non-target warning cues of differing behavioural relevance were contrasted, and we evaluated if warning cue-evoked activities varied according to whether the eventual task to be performed was motor or cognitive and whether patients were receiving or withdrawn from dopaminergic therapy. Warning cues evoked a complex temporal sequence of activities with three epochs over the 760 ms following the onset of the warning cue. In contrast to the initial evoked LFP, evoked activities over two later periods were significantly influenced by behavioural relevance and by treatment state. The early activity was likely related to the initial orientating of attention induced by a novel target, while the delayed responses in our paradigm may reflect processing related to the non-motor resource implications of cues. The results suggest that the BG are intimately involved in the evaluation of changes in the environment and of their behavioural significance. The latter process is partly modulated by dopamine. Weakness in this function might contribute to the behavioural impairment that can follow BG lesions and surgery.
A block to pre-prepared movement in gait freezing, relieved by pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation
(OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2011-07-01)
Gait freezing and postural instability are disabling features of Parkinsonian disorders, treatable with pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation. Both features are considered deficits of proximal and axial musculature, innervated predominantly by reticulospinal pathways and tend to manifest when gait and posture require adjustment. Adjustments to gait and posture are amenable to pre-preparation and rapid triggered release. Experimentally, such accelerated release can be elicited by loud auditory stimuli--a phenomenon known as 'StartReact'. We observed StartReact in healthy and Parkinsonian controls. However, StartReact was absent in Parkinsonian patients with severe gait freezing and postural instability. Pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation restored StartReact proximally and proximal reaction times to loud stimuli correlated with gait and postural disturbance. These findings suggest a relative block to triggered, pre-prepared movement in gait freezing and postural instability, relieved by pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation.
Neurotrophin Gene Therapy for Sustained Neural Preservation after Deafness
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-12-17)
The cochlear implant provides auditory cues to profoundly deaf patients by electrically stimulating the residual spiral ganglion neurons. These neurons, however, undergo progressive degeneration after hearing loss, marked initially by peripheral fibre retraction and ultimately culminating in cell death. This research aims to use gene therapy techniques to both hold and reverse this degeneration by providing a sustained and localised source of neurotrophins to the deafened cochlea. Adenoviral vectors containing green fluorescent protein, with or without neurotrophin-3 and brain derived neurotrophic factor, were injected into the lower basal turn of scala media of guinea pigs ototoxically deafened one week prior to intervention. This single injection resulted in localised and sustained gene expression, principally in the supporting cells within the organ of Corti. Guinea pigs treated with adenoviral neurotrophin-gene therapy had greater neuronal survival compared to contralateral non-treated cochleae when examined at 7 and 11 weeks post injection. Moreover; there was evidence of directed peripheral fibre regrowth towards cells expressing neurotrophin genes after both treatment periods. These data suggest that neurotrophin-gene therapy can provide sustained protection of spiral ganglion neurons and peripheral fibres after hearing loss.
Pre-, Per- and Postoperative Factors Affecting Performance of Postlinguistically Deaf Adults Using Cochlear Implants: A New Conceptual Model over Time
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-11-09)
OBJECTIVE: To test the influence of multiple factors on cochlear implant (CI) speech performance in quiet and in noise for postlinguistically deaf adults, and to design a model of predicted auditory performance with a CI as a function of the significant factors. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective multi-centre study. METHODS: Data from 2251 patients implanted since 2003 in 15 international centres were collected. Speech scores in quiet and in noise were converted into percentile ranks to remove differences between centres. The influence of 15 pre-, per- and postoperative factors, such as the duration of moderate hearing loss (mHL), the surgical approach (cochleostomy or round window approach), the angle of insertion, the percentage of active electrodes, and the brand of device were tested. The usual factors, duration of profound HL (pHL), age, etiology, duration of CI experience, that are already known to have an influence, were included in the statistical analyses. RESULTS: The significant factors were: the pure tone average threshold of the better ear, the brand of device, the percentage of active electrodes, the use of hearing aids (HAs) during the period of pHL, and the duration of mHL. CONCLUSIONS: A new model was designed showing a decrease of performance that started during the period of mHL, and became faster during the period of pHL. The use of bilateral HAs slowed down the related central reorganization that is the likely cause of the decreased performance.
A spatiotemporal analysis of gait freezing and the impact of pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation
(OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2012-05-01)
Gait freezing is an episodic arrest of locomotion due to an inability to take normal steps. Pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation is an emerging therapy proposed to improve gait freezing, even where refractory to medication. However, the efficacy and precise effects of pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation on Parkinsonian gait disturbance are not established. The clinical application of this new therapy is controversial and it is unknown if bilateral stimulation is more effective than unilateral. Here, in a double-blinded study using objective spatiotemporal gait analysis, we assessed the impact of unilateral and bilateral pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation on triggered episodes of gait freezing and on background deficits of unconstrained gait in Parkinson's disease. Under experimental conditions, while OFF medication, Parkinsonian patients with severe gait freezing implanted with pedunculopontine nucleus stimulators below the pontomesencephalic junction were assessed during three conditions; off stimulation, unilateral stimulation and bilateral stimulation. Results were compared to Parkinsonian patients without gait freezing matched for disease severity and healthy controls. Pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation improved objective measures of gait freezing, with bilateral stimulation more effective than unilateral. During unconstrained walking, Parkinsonian patients who experience gait freezing had reduced step length and increased step length variability compared to patients without gait freezing; however, these deficits were unchanged by pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation. Chronic pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation improved Freezing of Gait Questionnaire scores, reflecting a reduction of the freezing encountered in patients' usual environments and medication states. This study provides objective, double-blinded evidence that in a specific subgroup of Parkinsonian patients, stimulation of a caudal pedunculopontine nucleus region selectively improves gait freezing but not background deficits in step length. Bilateral stimulation was more effective than unilateral.
Deep brain stimulation can suppress pathological synchronisation in parkinsonian patients
(BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2011-05-01)
BACKGROUND: Although deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a highly effective therapeutic intervention in severe Parkinson's disease, its mechanism of action remains unclear. One possibility is that DBS suppresses local pathologically synchronised oscillatory activity. METHODS: To explore this, the authors recorded from DBS electrodes implanted in the STN of 16 patients with Parkinson's disease during simultaneous stimulation (pulse width 60 μs; frequency 130 Hz) of the same target using a specially designed amplifier. The authors analysed data from 25 sides. RESULTS: The authors found that DBS progressively suppressed peaks in local field potential activity at frequencies between 11 and 30 Hz as voltage was increased beyond a stimulation threshold of 1.5 V. Median peak power had fallen to 54% of baseline values by a stimulation intensity of 3.0 V. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that DBS can suppress pathological 11-30 Hz activity in the vicinity of stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease. This suppression occurs at stimulation voltages that are clinically effective.
Alpha oscillations in the pedunculopontine nucleus correlate with gait performance in parkinsonism
(OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2012-01-01)
The pedunculopontine nucleus, a component of the reticular formation, is topographically organized in animal models and implicated in locomotor control. In Parkinson's disease, pedunculopontine nucleus stimulation is an emerging treatment for gait freezing. Local field potentials recorded from pedunculopontine nucleus electrodes in such patients have demonstrated oscillations in the alpha and beta frequency bands, reactive to self-paced movement. Whether these oscillations are topographically organized or relevant to locomotion is unknown. Here, we recorded local field potentials from the pedunculopontine nucleus in parkinsonian patients during rest and unconstrained walking. Relative gait speed was assessed with trunk accelerometry. Peaks of alpha power were present at rest and during gait, when they correlated with gait speed. Gait freezing was associated with attenuation of alpha activity. Beta peaks were less consistently observed across rest and gait, and did not correlate with gait speed. Alpha power was maximal in the caudal pedunculopontine nucleus region and beta power was maximal rostrally. These results indicate a topographic distribution of neuronal activity in the pedunculopontine nucleus region and concur with animal data suggesting that the caudal subregion has particular relevance to gait. Alpha synchronization, proposed to suppress 'task irrelevant' distraction, has previously been demonstrated to correlate with performance of cognitive tasks. Here, we demonstrate a correlation between alpha oscillations and improved gait performance. The results raise the possibility that stimulation of caudal and rostral pedunculopontine nucleus regions may differ in their clinical effects.
Enhanced Auditory Neuron Survival Following Cell-Based BDNF Treatment in the Deaf Guinea Pig
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-04-15)
Exogenous neurotrophin delivery to the deaf cochlea can prevent deafness-induced auditory neuron degeneration, however, we have previously reported that these survival effects are rapidly lost if the treatment stops. In addition, there are concerns that current experimental techniques are not safe enough to be used clinically. Therefore, for such treatments to be clinically transferable, methods of neurotrophin treatment that are safe, biocompatible and can support long-term auditory neuron survival are necessary. Cell transplantation and gene transfer, combined with encapsulation technologies, have the potential to address these issues. This study investigated the survival-promoting effects of encapsulated BDNF over-expressing Schwann cells on auditory neurons in the deaf guinea pig. In comparison to control (empty) capsules, there was significantly greater auditory neuron survival following the cell-based BDNF treatment. Concurrent use of a cochlear implant is expected to result in even greater auditory neuron survival, and provide a clinically relevant method to support auditory neuron survival that may lead to improved speech perception and language outcomes for cochlear implant patients.
The Effect of Visual Cues on Difficulty Ratings for Segregation of Musical Streams in Listeners with Impaired Hearing
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-12-15)
BACKGROUND: Enjoyment of music is an important part of life that may be degraded for people with hearing impairments, especially those using cochlear implants. The ability to follow separate lines of melody is an important factor in music appreciation. This ability relies on effective auditory streaming, which is much reduced in people with hearing impairment, contributing to difficulties in music appreciation. The aim of this study was to assess whether visual cues could reduce the subjective difficulty of segregating a melody from interleaved background notes in normally hearing listeners, those using hearing aids, and those using cochlear implants. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Normally hearing listeners (N = 20), hearing aid users (N = 10), and cochlear implant users (N = 11) were asked to rate the difficulty of segregating a repeating four-note melody from random interleaved distracter notes. The pitch of the background notes was gradually increased or decreased throughout blocks, providing a range of difficulty from easy (with a large pitch separation between melody and distracter) to impossible (with the melody and distracter completely overlapping). Visual cues were provided on half the blocks, and difficulty ratings for blocks with and without visual cues were compared between groups. Visual cues reduced the subjective difficulty of extracting the melody from the distracter notes for normally hearing listeners and cochlear implant users, but not hearing aid users. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Simple visual cues may improve the ability of cochlear implant users to segregate lines of music, thus potentially increasing their enjoyment of music. More research is needed to determine what type of acoustic cues to encode visually in order to optimise the benefits they may provide.