Research

Insights from Living with Autism
December 22, 2017
Recognize common early signs of autism and learn why the prevalence of ASD diagnoses have increased significantly in recent years. Delve into various treatment models for ASD ranging from functional behavioral therapy to daily life therapy.


3 CEUs.

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Parkinson’s Disease: Cognitive and Motor Aspect Affecting Swallowing
November 22, 2017
Learn about the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. Explore how Parkinson’s Disease affects cognitive and swallow functions. Discover current treatment options that rapidly improve expiratory pressure in patients and learn to utilize the patient’s current level of functioning to maximize output.


3 CEUs.

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Advances in the Treatment of Acute Ischemic Stroke
November 22, 2017
Review what is a stroke and the two different types of stroke. Become familiar with the various medical treatment options available to patients within the first few hours of having a stroke. Recognize which patients meet the AHA/ASA guidelines for the different treatment types.


3 CEUs.

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Discernible Markers for ASD
October 22, 2017
ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that presents itself with an array of diverse characteristics. Learn about the two core features all children with autism share and how advances in robotics and technology can improve social interactions and learning objectives.


3 CEUs.

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Context-dependent reinstatement of an extinguished operant response in preweanling rats.
It is frequently assumed that infants are impaired in contextual memory and consequently, in recovery from extinction, a phenomenon considered to be context dependent. However, the evidence in the field is far from consistent with this interpretation, since several studies have shown context-dependent extinction in infant rats using a variety of procedures and behavioral measures. This discussion has primarily been based on studies using Pavlovian conditioning tasks. Three experiments were conducted to study reinstatement of an extinguished operant response and additionally to evaluate the context dependence of such an effect. Preweanling rats were trained on postnatal days (PDs) 16 and 17 t...
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Neonatal hippocampal lesions facilitate biconditional contextual discrimination learning in monkeys.
This study examined whether selective neonatal hippocampal lesions in monkeys (Macaca mulatta), which left the surrounding cortical areas (parahippocampal cortex) intact, affect contextual learning and memory compared with controls. Monkeys were tested with an automated touch-screen apparatus so that stimuli and contextual cues could be manipulated independently of one another. The data suggest that animals with neonatal hippocampal lesions have sparing of function with regard to contextual learning and memory when (a) contextual information is irrelevant or (b) relevant for good discrimination performance, and (c) when transferring a contextual rule to new discriminations. These fi...
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Impairment of the context preexposure facilitation effect in juvenile rats by neonatal alcohol exposure is associated with decreased Egr-1 mRNA expression in the prefrontal cortex.
The context preexposure facilitation effect (CPFE) is a variant of contextual fear conditioning in which learning about the context (preexposure) and associating the context with a shock (training) occur on separate occasions. The CPFE is sensitive to a range of neonatal alcohol doses (Murawski & Stanton, 2011). The current study examined the impact of neonatal alcohol on Egr-1 mRNA expression in the infralimbic (IL) and prelimbic (PL) subregions of the mPFC, the CA1 of dorsal hippocampus (dHPC), and the lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA), following the preexposure and training phases of the CPFE. Rat pups were exposed to a 5.25 g/kg/day single binge-like dose of alcohol (Group EtOH) or we...
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Analysis of learning deficits in aged rats on the W-track continuous spatial alternation task.
Young and aged animals were tested on a spatial alternation task that consisted of two interleaved components: (1) an “outbound” or alternation component (working memory) and (2) an “inbound” component, requiring the animal to remember to return to a central location in space (spatial memory). In the present study, aged rats made more outbound errors throughout testing, resulting in significantly more days to reach learning criterion, as compared to young rats. Furthermore, while all animals were able to learn the hippocampus-dependent inbound component of the task, most aged animals remained just above chance on the outbound component, even after extended testing days. Aged rats may...
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Reversal learning impairments in the maternal immune activation rat model of schizophrenia.
One of the cognitive symptoms observed in schizophrenia is decreased flexibility in several tasks, including reversal learning. Reversal learning has previously been tested in rats following maternal immune activation (MIA), a risk factor for schizophrenia, with varying results. Whereas some previous studies have shown that MIA rats are slower to learn a reversal, others have reported more rapid learning compared with controls. Several of these latter studies have, however, used a T-maze task with aversive, negative reinforcement as a motivating factor. Because most human studies use positive reinforcement in reversal tasks, here we tested whether reinforcement valence might be a critical fa...
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Blockade of dopamine D₁ receptors, but not D₂ receptors, decreases motivation in a novel effort-discounting paradigm in common marmosets.
Effort-based decision-making paradigms have recently been used to measure motivation in healthy subjects and patients with neuropsychiatric disorders. In the present study, we developed a novel effort-discounting paradigm using a touch-panel system in common marmosets. Marmosets were trained to choose between a low-reward (a piece of cake) requiring low-effort (one touch response) versus high-reward (three pieces of cake) requiring one of three different effort levels (one, two, or four touch responses). Because the number of trials per session was kept constant, the selection of the high-reward choice was always the optimal strategy to receive the maximum number of rewards. Marmosets’ hig...
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Rapid effects of sex steroids on zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) pair maintenance.
Although steroids are widely known to affect behavior through activation of nuclear/cytosolic receptors (“genomic” effects), steroids can also rapidly affect behavior via modulation of signal transduction pathways (“nongenomic,” fast actions, or rapid effects). In zebra finches, there is evidence that sex steroids have context-specific effects on pair-maintenance behavior, on both acute and chronic timescales. Here, we quantified the effects of orally administered testosterone and 17β-estradiol (E2) on pair-maintenance behavior. We show that E2 rapidly affects female, but not male, affiliative behavior profiles during a partner separation and reunion paradigm. More specifically, E2 ...
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Lasting impact on memory of midlife exposure to exogenous and endogenous estrogens.
We previously demonstrated that 40 days of prior midlife estradiol treatment results in enhanced spatial memory in aging ovariectomized rats long after termination of the estradiol treatment. Our current goal was to determine whether this benefit is due to lasting impacts on memory specifically of previous exogenous estradiol treatment or simply due to delaying cognitive deficits that occur following loss of ovarian hormones. Middle-aged rats were ovariectomized or underwent sham surgery. Ovariectomized rats received estradiol (Previous Estradiol) or vehicle (Previous Vehicle) implants. Rats undergoing sham surgery (Previous Intact) received vehicle implants. Forty days later, Previous Intac...
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Inactivation of the cerebellar fastigial nuclei alters social behavior in the rat.
Research has implicated the deep cerebellar nuclei in autism. This study questioned whether fastigial nuclei abnormalities account for some of the irregular social behaviors seen in autism. Bilateral cannulation surgery was performed on 13 rats. An ABABAB reversal design was implemented. All animals received a microinfusion of saline during the baseline (A) phases. The experimental animal was placed in an open field with an unfamiliar confederate animal, and social interactions between the two animals were measured for 10 min. Seven animals received microinfusions of bupivacaine during the treatment phases (B), which temporarily inactivated the fastigial nuclei. Six control animals received ...
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Psychosocial stress reactivity is associated with decreased whole-brain network efficiency and increased amygdala centrality.
Cognitive and emotional functions are supported by the coordinated activity of a distributed network of brain regions. This coordinated activity may be disrupted by psychosocial stress, resulting in the dysfunction of cognitive and emotional processes. Graph theory is a mathematical approach to assess coordinated brain activity that can estimate the efficiency of information flow and determine the centrality of brain regions within a larger distributed neural network. However, limited research has applied graph-theory techniques to the study of stress. Advancing our understanding of the impact stress has on global brain networks may provide new insight into factors that influence individual ...
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Emotion-modulated startle reflex during reappraisal: Probe timing and behavioral correlates.
Down-regulation of negative emotions has been shown to reliably inhibit the emotion-modulated startle reflex, but it remains unclear whether the timing of the startle probe influences the quantification of emotion regulation with this measure. Moreover, it is not known whether the degree of startle inhibition corresponds to the subjective attenuation of negative emotions. Therefore, the two main goals of the study were, first, to systematically analyze the effect of probe time on startle inhibition and, second, to explore the association between subjectively perceived down-regulation of arousal and valence and the degree of startle inhibition. We presented negative and neutral pictures to N ...
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Acetaminophen disrupts memory in object recognition and increases extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation in male mice.
Acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol) is a commonly used over-the-counter pain medication, but recent evidence suggests that a single exposure or prenatal exposure may have significant behavioral effects. This investigation aimed to determine whether acetaminophen could disrupt memory formation in an object-recognition task and to quantify potential changes in memory-related signaling cascades in the hippocampus of mice after acetaminophen administration. Using male mice, we examined the effect of a single subcutaneous injection of acetaminophen on the object-recognition task, a single-trial, hippocampus-dependent memory task. We also investigated potential changes in the activation of e...
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“Fast” versus “slow” word integration of visual and olfactory objects: EEG biomarkers of decision speed variability.
In psychological experiments, behavioral speed varies across trials, and this variation is often associated with corresponding fluctuations in cortical activity. Little is known about such cortical variations in semantic priming tasks where target words are matched with preceding sensory object cues. Here, two visually presented target words (“pear” and “lilac”) were repeatedly cued by corresponding odors or pictures, and the participants were to indicate matching or nonmatching combinations. Data were split in behaviorally “fast” versus “slow” trials. We hypothesized that slow trials would be associated with higher prestimulus alpha activity and reduced ERP amplitudes, and t...
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Sensorimotor representation and functional motor changes following short-term arm immobilization.
Limb immobilization paradigms are increasingly used to investigate changes in brain plasticity and support potential rehabilitation techniques that might help counteract motor impairments. Yet, it remains unclear how unilateral arm immobilization may influence the sensorimotor representation and functional output for both arms. Using a randomized crossover design, 14 participants underwent a baseline test, followed by two experimental conditions separated by 1 week: a right (dominant) arm immobilization phase over a period of 8 hr and a no-immobilization (or control) phase also lasting 8 hr. Before and after each condition, participants were tested on a hand laterality judgment task to asses...
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Poststroke exercise is as effective as skilled rehabilitation: Effects in young and aged mice.
Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability, though current rehabilitative strategies fail to yield complete recovery. Focused training of the impaired limb improves functional outcome in rodents, but these strategies require intensive training that is difficult to practice in humans. Because aerobic exercise has been found to induce beneficial changes in the brain, it is a promising rehabilitative strategy after stroke. The current study investigated the effect of voluntary poststroke aerobic exercise on functional outcome in young and aged mice. Mice were trained on a skilled reaching task before receiving focal ischemic stroke and being subdivided into 3 different groups for rehabil...
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Pain chronification and chronic pain impair a defensive behavior, but not the ability of acute pain to facilitate it, through the activation of an endogenous analgesia circuit.
The endogenous ability to decrease pain perception during life-threatening situations is crucial to the prevention of recuperative behaviors and to leave the subject free to engage in appropriated defensive responses. We have previously shown that acute pain activates the ascending nociceptive control—an endogenous analgesia circuit dependent on opioid mechanisms within nucleus accumbens—to facilitate the tonic immobility response, an innate defensive behavior. Now we asked whether chronic pain and pain chronification impairs either the tonic immobility response or the ability of acute pain to facilitate it by activating the ascending nociceptive control. We found a significant decrease ...
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