Publications by authors named "Joan Deus"

67 Publications

Dysfunctional Brain Reward System in Child Obesity.

Cereb Cortex 2021 Apr 16. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

ISGlobal, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.

Eating habits leading to obesity may reflect nonhomeostatic behavior based on excessive immediate-reward seeking. However, it is currently unknown to what extent excess weight is associated with functional alterations in the brain's reward system in children. We tested the integrity of reward circuits using resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging in a population of 230 children aged 8-12 years. The major components of the reward system were identified within the ventral striatum network defined on the basis of the nucleus accumbens connectivity pattern. The functional structure of the cerebral cortex was characterized using a combination of local functional connectivity measures. Higher body mass index was associated with weaker connectivity between the cortical and subcortical elements of the reward system, and enhanced the integration of the sensorimotor cortex to superior parietal areas relevant to body image formation. Obese children, unlike WHO-defined overweight condition, showed functional structure alterations in the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala region similar to those previously observed in primary obsessive-compulsive disorder and Prader-Willi syndrome associated with obsessive eating behavior. Results further support the view that childhood obesity is not simply a deviant habit with restricted physical health consequences but is associated with reward system dysfunction characterizing behavioral control disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhab092DOI Listing
April 2021

Mapping the Synchronization Effect of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Inhibition on the Cerebral Cortex Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Brain Connect 2021 Apr 1. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

MRI Research Unit, Department of Radiology, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of spontaneous brain activity permits the identification of functional networks on the basis of region synchrony. The functional coupling between the elements of a neural system increases during brain activation. However, neural synchronization may also be the effect of inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons in states of brain inhibition such as sleep or pharmacological sedation. We investigated the effects of an oral dose of alprazolam, a classical benzodiazepine known to enhance inhibitory neurotransmission, using recently developed measures of local functional connectivity. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, 32 non-treatment-seeking individuals with social anxiety underwent two identical resting-state fMRI sessions on separate days after receiving 0.75 mg of alprazolam and placebo. Functional connectivity maps of the cerebral cortex were generated by using multidistance functional connectivity measures defined within iso-distant local areas. Relative to placebo, increased intracortical functional connectivity was observed in the alprazolam condition in visual, auditory, and sensorimotor cortices, and in areas of sensory integration such as the posterior insula and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Alprazolam significantly reduced subjective arousal compared with placebo, and the change was associated with variations in multidistance functional connectivity measures in the OFC. In conclusion, we report evidence that alprazolam significantly modifies neural activity coupling at rest in the form of functional connectivity enhancement within the cerebral cortex. The effect of alprazolam was particularly evident in the cortical sensory system, which would further suggest a differentiated effect of GABA inhibition on sensory processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/brain.2020.0844DOI Listing
April 2021

Altered Gesture Imitation and Brain Anatomy in Adult Prader-Willi Syndrome Patients.

J Int Neuropsychol Soc 2021 Mar 4:1-13. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Specialized Service in Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Department, Institut Assistència Sanitària (IAS), Parc Hospitalari Martí i Julià, Girona, Spain.

Objective: To explore motor praxis in adults with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) in comparison with a control group of people with intellectual disability (ID) and to examine the relationship with brain structural measurements.

Method: Thirty adult participants with PWS and 132 with ID of nongenetic etiology (matched by age, sex, and ID level) were assessed using a comprehensive evaluation of the praxis function, which included pantomime of tool use, imitation of meaningful and meaningless gestures, motor sequencing, and constructional praxis.

Results: Results support specific praxis difficulties in PWS, with worse performance in the imitation of motor actions and better performance in constructional praxis than ID peers. Compared with both control groups, PWS showed increased gray matter volume in sensorimotor and subcortical regions. However, we found no obvious association between these alterations and praxis performance. Instead, praxis scores correlated with regional volume measures in distributed apparently normal brain areas.

Conclusions: Our findings are consistent in showing significant impairment in gesture imitation abilities in PWS and, otherwise, further indicate that the visuospatial praxis domain is relatively preserved. Praxis disability in PWS was not associated with a specific, focal alteration of brain anatomy. Altered imitation gestures could, therefore, be a consequence of widespread brain dysfunction. However, the specific contribution of key brain structures (e.g., areas containing mirror neurons) should be more finely tested in future research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1355617721000060DOI Listing
March 2021

Largest scale dissociation of brain activity at propofol-induced loss of consciousness.

Sleep 2021 01;44(1)

Department of Anesthesiology, Hospital del Mar-IMIM, Barcelona, Spain.

The brain is a functional unit made up of multilevel connected elements showing a pattern of synchronized activity that varies in different states. The wake-sleep cycle is a major variation of brain functional condition that is ultimately regulated by subcortical arousal- and sleep-promoting cell groups. We analyzed the evolution of functional MRI (fMRI) signal in the whole cortex and in a deep region including most sleep- and wake-regulating subcortical nuclei at loss of consciousness induced by the hypnotic agent propofol. Optimal data were obtained in 21 of the 30 healthy participants examined. A dynamic analysis of fMRI time courses on a time-scale of seconds was conducted to characterize consciousness transition, and functional connectivity maps were generated to detail the anatomy of structures showing different dynamics. Inside the magnet, loss of consciousness was marked by the participants ceasing to move their hands. We observed activity synchronization after loss of consciousness within both the cerebral cortex and subcortical structures. However, the evolution of fMRI signal was dissociated, showing a transient reduction of global cortico-subcortical coupling that was restored during the unconscious state. An exception to cortico-subcortical decoupling was a brain network related to self-awareness (i.e. the default mode network) that remained connected to subcortical brain structures. Propofol-induced unconsciousness is thus characterized by an initial, transitory dissociated synchronization at the largest scale of brain activity. Such cortico-subcortical decoupling and subsequent recoupling may allow the brain to detach from waking activity and reorganize into a functionally distinct state.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa152DOI Listing
January 2021

Central sensitization in knee osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia: Beyond depression and anxiety.

PLoS One 2019 5;14(12):e0225836. Epub 2019 Dec 5.

Service of Psychiatry and Psychology, HM-Sant Jordi Clinic, Barcelona, Spain.

Objectives: To determine the psychopathological profile of patients with central sensitization (CS) in a sample of knee osteoarthritis, with and without CS, and fibromyalgia, and to compare their psychopathological profiles.

Methods: The final sample consists of 19 patients with osteoarthritis and CS (mean 66.37 years ± 8.77), 41 osteoarthritis patients without CS (mean 66.8 ± 7.39 years), 47 fibromyalgia patients (mean 46.47 years ± 7.92) and 26 control subjects (mean 51.56 years ± 11.41). The psychopathological profile was evaluated with the Millon Multiaxial Clinical Inventory.

Results: The average score of MCMI-III reflect higher scores in the fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis-CS groups. Patients with osteoarthritis-CS are more likely to report larger scores in Borderline and Major Depression scales. Fibromyalgia patients are more likely to report more increased scores in Somatoform and Major Depression, versus osteoarthritis-CS group. Fibromyalgia patients versus osteoarthritis without CS are more likely to report higher scores in Schizoid, Depression, Histrionic, Sadistic, Borderline, Somatoform, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression scales.

Discussion: Patients with CS have less differences in their psychopathological profiles as well as in both osteoarthritis groups and greatest differences are obtained between the fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis without CS, so perhaps presence of CS is the key to differentiate those groups and not chronic pain. An exhaustive assessment brings more accurate psychopathological profiles, thus better psychological treatment could be applied.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0225836PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894784PMC
March 2020

Depression and Apathy After Transient Ischemic Attack or Minor Stroke: Prevalence, Evolution and Predictors.

Sci Rep 2019 11 7;9(1):16248. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Clinical Neuroscience Group of the Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida (IRBLleida), Universitat de Lleida, Lleida, Spain.

Few previous studies have focused on affective impairment after transient ischemic attack (TIA) and/or minor stroke. The aim was to establish the prevalence, evolution and predictors of post-stroke depression (PSD) and post-stroke apathy (PSA) over a 12-month follow-up period. We prospectively included TIA and minor stroke patients (NIHSS ≤4) who had undergone magnetic resonance imaging <7 days. PSD was diagnosed according to DSM-5 criteria and PSA was defined based on an Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES-C) score of ≥37. Clinical and neuroimaging variables (presence and patterns of lesion, cerebral bleeds and white matter disease) were analysed in order to find potential predictors for PSD and PSA. Follow-up was performed at 10 days and after 2, 6, 9 and 12 months. 82 patients were included (mean 66.4 [standard deviation11.0] years) of whom 70 completed the follow-up. At 10 days, 36 (43.9%) and 28 (34.1%) patients respectively were diagnosed with PSD and PSA. At 12 months, 25 of 70 (35.7%) patients still had PSA, but only 6 of 70 (8.6%) had PSD. Beck Depression Inventory-II score, mini mental state examination (MMSE) and a previous history of depression or anxiety were predictors for PSD. While MMSE score, The Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale and having previously suffered a stroke were also risk factors for PSA. Acute basal ganglia lesion and periventricular leukoaraiosis were associated with PSA while deep leukorariosis with PSD. Despite the presence of few or only transient symptoms, PSD and PSA frequent appear early after TIA and minor stroke. Unlike PSD, apathy tends to persist during follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52721-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6838079PMC
November 2019

Brain activity during traditional textbook and audiovisual-3D learning.

Brain Behav 2019 10 30;9(10):e01427. Epub 2019 Sep 30.

MRI Research Unit, Department of Radiology, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.

Introduction: Audiovisual educational tools have increasingly been used during the past years to complement and compete with traditional textbooks. However, little is known as to how the brain processes didactic information presented in different formats. We directly assessed brain activity during learning using both traditional textbook and audiovisual-3D material.

Methods: A homogeneous sample of 30 young adults with active study habits was assessed. Educational material on the subject of Cardiology was adapted to be presented during the acquisition of functional MRI.

Results: When tested after image acquisition, participants obtained similar examination scores for both formats. Evoked brain activity was robust during both traditional textbook and audiovisual-3D lessons, but a greater number of brain systems were implicated in the processing of audiovisual-3D information, consistent with its multisource sensory nature. However, learning was not associated with group mean brain activations, but was instead predicted by distinct functional MRI signal changes in the frontal lobes and showed distinct cognitive correlates. In the audiovisual-3D version, examination scores were positively correlated with late-evoked prefrontal cortex activity and working memory, and negatively correlated with language-related frontal areas and verbal memory. As for the traditional textbook version, the fewer results obtained suggested the opposite pattern, with examination scores negatively correlating with prefrontal cortex activity evoked during the lesson.

Conclusions: Overall, the results indicate that a similar level of knowledge may be achieved via different cognitive strategies. In our experiment, audiovisual learning appeared to benefit from prefrontal executive resources (as opposed to memorizing verbal information) more than traditional textbook learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1427DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6790317PMC
October 2019

Compulsions in Prader-Willi syndrome: occurrence and severity as a function of genetic subtype.

Actas Esp Psiquiatr 2019 May 1;47(3):79-87. Epub 2019 May 1.

Specialized Service in Mental Health and Intellectual Disability (SESM-DI), and Girona Biomedical Research Institute (IdibGi), Parc Hospitalari Martí i Julià, Institut d´Assistència Sanitària, Salt (Girona), Spain Department of Psychology, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Introduction: Compulsions are among the most typical behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). The most frequent causes of PWS are deletion of the genes located in the segment 15q11-q13 of the paternal allele and maternal uniparental disomy of cromosome 15. The aim of the present work was to study compulsive behavior in a sample of adults with PWS and analyze potential differences as a function of the genetic cause/subtype.

Material And Methods: In the 27 study participants, existence of type I deletion (n=7), type II deletion (n=13), and maternal disomy (n=7) was determined by means of genetic tests. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, the Compulsive Behavior Checklist, and the Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire were used to assess occurrence and severity of compulsions.

Results: Most of the participants showed compulsive behavior, the most frequent compulsions were those of inappropriate grooming (skin picking) and order (hoarding). The occurrence of compulsions was less frequent in the maternal disomy group than in the deletion groups. Severe compulsions were more frequent in those participants with type II deletion than in the other groups.

Conclusions: Differences in occurrence and severity of compulsions exist as a function of PWS genetic subtype. Our results support the idea that individuals with maternal disomy are less affected by compulsive behavior. More research on the severity of compulsions as a function of deletion type should be done, as the studies conducted so far have shown contradictory results.
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May 2019

Testing the effects of gentle vibrotactile stimulation on symptom relief in fibromyalgia.

Arthritis Res Ther 2019 06 14;21(1):148. Epub 2019 Jun 14.

MRI Research Unit, Department of Radiology, Hospital del Mar, Passeig Marítim 25-29, 08003, Barcelona, Spain.

Background: Sensory disturbances in fibromyalgia extend beyond nociception. It has been proposed that imbalance in the mutual competition between painful input and non-painful sensory activity may, to a significant extent, account for the augmented subjective perception of pain. In this context, non-nociceptive somatosensory stimulation could arguably attenuate fibromyalgia symptoms by restoring the sensory balance. We specifically tested the effect of vibrotactile stimulation on symptom relief in fibromyalgia patients with a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled, crossover clinical trial.

Methods: Seventy-seven female patients were randomized and data from 63 valid cases were analyzed. Active intervention involved extensive body stimulation with gentle mechanical vibrations administered during 3 h at night for 3 weeks, and the placebo effect was controlled using identical instruments to simulate an alternative treatment option. The primary outcome measure combined pain, fatigue, and complaints of poor cognition.

Results: Vibrotactile stimulation was significantly superior to sham in alleviating fibromyalgia symptoms globally. However, univariate analyses showed that the effect was not universal. Benefits were perceived on unpleasant somatic sensations such as generalized pain and fatigue, but not on poor cognition, anxiety, and depression. Vibrotactile stimulation was notably well tolerated and sleep quality significantly improved despite the fact that vibrations were administered at night.

Conclusions: Results thus provide new evidence that non-nociceptive somatosensory stimulation may favorably act upon altered somatosensory balance in fibromyalgia. From a clinical perspective, both the degree of improvement and the easy application of our proposal would seem to support a potential role for vibrotactile stimulation in the symptomatic treatment of fibromyalgia.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov registration number NCT03227952 . Registered 24 July, 2017.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-019-1932-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570892PMC
June 2019

Mapping Alterations of the Functional Structure of the Cerebral Cortex in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Cereb Cortex 2019 12;29(11):4753-4762

Centro Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Spain.

We mapped alterations of the functional structure of the cerebral cortex using a novel imaging approach in a sample of 160 obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients. Whole-brain functional connectivity maps were generated using multidistance measures of intracortical neural activity coupling defined within isodistant local areas. OCD patients demonstrated neural activity desynchronization within the orbitofrontal cortex and in primary somatosensory, auditory, visual, gustatory, and olfactory areas. Symptom severity was significantly associated with the degree of functional structure alteration in OCD-relevant brain regions. By means of a novel imaging perspective, we once again identified brain alterations in the orbitofrontal cortex, involving areas purportedly implicated in the pathophysiology of OCD. However, our results also indicated that weaker intracortical activity coupling is also present in each primary sensory area. On the basis of previous neurophysiological studies, such cortical activity desynchronization may best be interpreted as reflecting deficient inhibitory neuron activity and altered sensory filtering.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhz008DOI Listing
December 2019

Lack of response to disgusting food in the hypothalamus and related structures in Prader Willi syndrome.

Neuroimage Clin 2019 4;21:101662. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

Endocrinology and Nutrition Department, Parc Taulí Hospital Universitari, Institut d'Investigació i Innovació Parc Taulí I3PT- UAB, 08208 Sabadell, Spain.

Objective: To investigate, based on a putative abnormal neural processing of disgusting signals in Prader Willi syndrome (PWS) patients, the brain response to visual representations of disgusting food in PWS using functional MRI (fMRI).

Methods: Twenty-one genetically-confirmed PWS patients, 30 age- and sex-matched and 28 BMI-matched control subjects viewed a movie depicting disgusting food-related scenes interspersed with scenes of appetizing food while fMRI was acquired. Brain activation maps were compared between groups and correlated with disgust and hunger ratings.

Results: At the cortical level, the response to disgusting food representations in PWS patients was qualitatively similar to that of control subjects, albeit less extensive, and engaged brain regions typically related to visually-evoked disgust, such as the anterior insula/frontal operculum, the lateral frontal cortex and visual areas. By contrast, activation was almost absent in limbic structures directly concerned with the regulation of instinctive behavior robustly activated in control subjects, such as the hypothalamus, amygdala/hippocampus and periaqueductal gray.

Conclusions: Our study provides novel insights into the neural substrates of appetite control in a genetically-mediated cause of obesity. The presence of significant cortical changes further indicates that PWS patients consciously process disgusting stimuli, but the virtual absence of response in deep, limbic structures suggests that disgusting signals do not adequately reach the primary brain system for the appetite control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101662DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412080PMC
January 2020

A longitudinal study of brain anatomy changes preceding dementia in Down syndrome.

Neuroimage Clin 2018 28;18:160-166. Epub 2018 Jan 28.

Specialized Service in Mental Health and Intellectual Disability, Institut Assistència Sanitària (IAS), Parc Hospitalari Martí i Julià, 17190 Girona, Spain.

Background: We longitudinally assessed Down syndrome individuals at the age of risk of developing dementia to measure changes in brain anatomy and their relationship to cognitive impairment progression.

Methods: Forty-two Down syndrome individuals were initially included, of whom 27 (mean age 46.8 years) were evaluable on the basis of completing the 2-year follow-up and success in obtaining good quality MRI exams. Voxel-based morphometry was used to estimate regional brain volumes at baseline and follow-up on 3D anatomical images. Longitudinal volume changes for the group and their relationship with change in general cognitive status and specific cognitive domains were mapped.

Results: As a group, significant volume reduction was identified in the substantia innominata region of the basal forebrain, hippocampus, lateral temporal cortex and left arcuate fasciculus. Volume reduction in the substantia innominata and hippocampus was more prominent in individuals whose clinical status changed from cognitively stable to mild cognitive impairment or dementia during the follow-up. Relevantly, longitudinal memory score change was specifically associated with volume change in the hippocampus, prospective memory with prefrontal lobe and verbal comprehension with language-related brain areas.

Conclusions: Results are notably concordant with the well-established anatomical changes signaling the progression to dementia in Alzheimer's disease, despite the dense baseline pathology that developmentally accumulates in Down syndrome. This commonality supports the potential value of Down syndrome as a genetic model of Alzheimer's neurodegeneration and may serve to further support the view that Down syndrome patients are best candidates to benefit from treatment research in Alzheimer's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2018.01.024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984600PMC
January 2019

Characterization of the Spatial Structure of Local Functional Connectivity Using Multidistance Average Correlation Measures.

Brain Connect 2018 06 7;8(5):276-287. Epub 2018 Jun 7.

1 MRI Research Unit, Department of Radiology, Hospital del Mar , Barcelona, Spain .

There is ample evidence from basic research in neuroscience of the importance of local corticocortical networks. Millimetric resolution is achievable with current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners and sequences, and consequently a number of "local" activity similarity measures have been defined to describe patterns of segregation and integration at this spatial scale. We have introduced the use of IsoDistant Average Correlation (IDAC), easily defined as the average fMRI temporal correlation of a given voxel with other voxels placed at increasingly separated isodistant intervals, to characterize the curve of local fMRI signal similarities. IDAC curves can be statistically compared using parametric multivariate statistics. Furthermore, by using red-green-blue color coding to display jointly IDAC values belonging to three different distance lags, IDAC curves can also be displayed as multidistance IDAC maps. We applied IDAC analysis to a sample of 41 subjects scanned under two different conditions, a resting state and an auditory-visual continuous stimulation. Multidistance IDAC mapping was able to discriminate between gross anatomofunctional cortical areas and, moreover, was sensitive to modulation between the two brain conditions in areas known to activate and deactivate during audiovisual tasks. Unlike previous fMRI local similarity measures already in use, our approach draws special attention to the continuous smooth pattern of local functional connectivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/brain.2017.0575DOI Listing
June 2018

Mapping the sequence of brain events in response to disgusting food.

Hum Brain Mapp 2018 01 11;39(1):369-380. Epub 2017 Oct 11.

Endocrinology and Nutrition Department, Sabadell University Hospital (UAB), Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí, Sabadell, 08208, Spain.

Warning signals indicating that a food is potentially dangerous may evoke a response that is not limited to the feeling of disgust. We investigated the sequence of brain events in response to visual representations of disgusting food using a dynamic image analysis. Functional MRI was acquired in 30 healthy subjects while they were watching a movie showing disgusting food scenes interspersed with the scenes of appetizing food. Imaging analysis included the identification of the global brain response and the generation of frame-by-frame activation maps at the temporal resolution of 2 s. Robust activations were identified in brain structures conventionally associated with the experience of disgust, but our analysis also captured a variety of other brain elements showing distinct temporal evolutions. The earliest events included transient changes in the orbitofrontal cortex and visual areas, followed by a more durable engagement of the periaqueductal gray, a pivotal element in the mediation of responses to threat. A subsequent core phase was characterized by the activation of subcortical and cortical structures directly concerned not only with the emotional dimension of disgust (e.g., amygdala-hippocampus, insula), but also with the regulation of food intake (e.g., hypothalamus). In a later phase, neural excitement extended to broad cortical areas, the thalamus and cerebellum, and finally to the default mode network that signaled the progressive termination of the evoked response. The response to disgusting food representations is not limited to the emotional domain of disgust, and may sequentially involve a variety of broadly distributed brain networks. Hum Brain Mapp 39:369-380, 2018. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23848DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6866415PMC
January 2018

Brain imaging of pain sensitization in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Pain 2017 Sep;158(9):1831-1838

Rheumatology Department, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.

A relevant aspect in osteoarthritic pain is neural sensitization. This phenomenon involves augmented responsiveness to painful stimulation and may entail a clinically worse prognosis. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study pain sensitization in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Sixty patients were recruited and pain sensitization was clinically defined on the basis of regional spreading of pain (spreading sensitization) and increased pain response to repeated stimulation (temporal summation). Functional magnetic resonance imaging testing involved assessing brain responses to both pressure and heat stimulation. Thirty-three patients (55%) showed regional pain spreading (simple sensitization) and 19 patients (32%) showed both regional spreading and temporal summation. Sensitized patients were more commonly women. Direct painful pressure stimulation of the joint (articular interline) robustly activated all of the neural elements typically involved in pain perception, but did not differentiate sensitized and nonsensitized patients. Painful pressure stimulation on the anterior tibial surface (sensitized site) evoked greater activation in sensitized patients in regions typically involved in pain and also beyond these regions, extending to the auditory, visual, and ventral sensorimotor cortices. Painful heat stimulation of the volar forearm did not discriminate the sensitization phenomenon. Results confirm the high prevalence of pain sensitization secondary to knee osteoarthritis. Relevantly, the sensitization phenomenon was associated with neural changes extending beyond strict pain-processing regions with enhancement of activity in general sensory, nonnociceptive brain areas. This effect is in contrast to the changes previously identified in primary pain sensitization in fibromyalgia patients presenting with a weakening of the general sensory integration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000985DOI Listing
September 2017

Vulnerability to Psychopathology and Dimensions of Personality in Patients With Fibromyalgia.

Clin J Pain 2017 Nov;33(11):991-997

Departments of *Clinical and Health Psychology †Psychobiology and Methodology of Health Sciences, Autonomous University of Barcelona §Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar, Hospital Mar ‡Rheumatology Department, Hospital CIMA Sanitas, Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: Fibromyalgia (FM) patients may present psychopathology and some characteristic personality traits that may affect their adaptation to the disease. The aim of this paper was to study the relationship between personality dimensions according to the psychobiological model of Cloninger and the presence of psychopathology.

Materials And Methods: The study sample consisted of 42 patients with FM and 38 pain-free controls. The assessment instruments administered were the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory.

Results: A higher proportion of clinical psychopathologic syndromes (CPS) was observed in the FM group than in the control group, the most prevalent being anxiety disorder and dysthymia. Patients with FM (with CPS or without CPS) presented higher Harm Avoidance than the control group, and the presence of a CPS also increased Harm Avoidance scores. FM patients with CPS had low Self-directedness (SD) compared with both the control group and with their FM peers without CPS. Purposefulness and Anticipatory worry-Pessimism explained 38% of the variance of dysthymia, and anticipatory worry-Pessimism explained 18% of the variance of anxiety disorders.

Conclusions: Patients with FM have a high probability of anxious-depressive-type psychopathologic alterations. Their vulnerability to these conditions may be determined by personality traits. The SD character dimension may have implications for therapy, as low SD is associated with the presence of psychopathology and with a low capacity to cope with the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/AJP.0000000000000506DOI Listing
November 2017

Effects of chondroitin sulfate on brain response to painful stimulation in knee osteoarthritis patients. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

Med Clin (Barc) 2017 Jun 22;148(12):539-547. Epub 2017 Feb 22.

Departamento de Reumatología, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, España.

Introduction: Knee osteoarthritis is causing pain and functional disability. One of the inherent problems with efficacy assessment of pain medication was the lack of objective pain measurements, but functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has emerged as a useful means to objectify brain response to painful stimulation. We have investigated the effect of chondroitin sulfate (CS) on brain response to knee painful stimulation in patients with knee osteoarthritis using fMRI.

Methods: Twenty-two patients received CS (800mg/day) and 27 patients placebo, and were assessed at baseline and after 4 months of treatment. Two fMRI tests were conducted in each session by applying painful pressure on the knee interline and on the patella surface. The outcome measurement was attenuation of the response evoked by knee painful stimulation in the brain.

Results: fMRI of patella pain showed significantly greater activation reduction under CS compared with placebo in the region of the mesencephalic periaquecductal gray. The CS group, additionally showed pre/post-treatment activation reduction in the cortical representation of the leg. No effects of CS were detected using the interline pressure test.

Conclusions: fMRI was sensitive to objectify CS effects on brain response to painful pressure on patellofemoral cartilage, which is consistent with the known CS action on chondrocyte regeneration. The current work yields further support to the utility of fMRI to objectify treatment effects on osteoarthritis pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.medcli.2016.12.036DOI Listing
June 2017

Anomalous White Matter Structure and the Effect of Age in Down Syndrome Patients.

J Alzheimers Dis 2017 ;57(1):61-70

Integrative Pharmacology and Neuroscience Systems Research Group, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain.

Background: Neural tissue alterations in Down syndrome are fully expressed at relatively late developmental stages. In addition, there is an early presence of neurodegenerative changes in the late life stages.

Objective: The aims of this study were both to characterize white matter abnormalities in the brain of adult Down syndrome patients using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and to investigate whether degenerative alterations in white matter structure are detectable before dementia is clinically evident.

Methods: Forty-five adult non-demented Down syndrome patients showing a wide age range (18-52 years) and a matched 45-subject control group were assessed. DTI fractional anisotropy (FA) brain maps were generated and selected cognitive tests were administered.

Results: Compared with healthy controls, non-demented Down syndrome patients showed lower DTI FA in white matter involving the major pathways, but with more severe alterations in the frontal-subcortical circuits. White matter FA decreased with age at a similar rate in both DS and control groups.

Conclusions: Our results contribute to characterizing the expression of white matter structural alterations in adult Down syndrome. However, an accelerated aging effect was not demonstrated, which may suggest that the FA measurements used are not sufficiently sensitive or, alternatively, age-related white matter neurodegeneration is not obvious prior to overt clinical dementia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-161112DOI Listing
February 2018

Lack of Postprandial Peak in Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

PLoS One 2016;11(9):e0163468. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Sabadell University Hospital, Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí, Sabadell, Spain, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.

Context: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is characterized by severe hyperphagia. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and leptin are reciprocally involved in energy homeostasis.

Objectives: To analyze the role of BDNF and leptin in satiety in genetic subtypes of PWS.

Design: Experimental study.

Setting: University hospital.

Subjects: 90 adults: 30 PWS patients; 30 age-sex-BMI-matched obese controls; and 30 age-sex-matched lean controls.

Interventions: Subjects ingested a liquid meal after fasting ≥10 hours.

Main Outcome Measures: Leptin and BDNF levels in plasma extracted before ingestion and 30', 60', and 120' after ingestion. Hunger, measured on a 100-point visual analogue scale before ingestion and 60' and 120' after ingestion.

Results: Fasting BDNF levels were lower in PWS than in controls (p = 0.05). Postprandially, PWS patients showed only a truncated early peak in BDNF, and their BDNF levels at 60' and 120' were lower compared with lean controls (p<0.05). Leptin was higher in PWS patients than in controls at all time points (p<0.001). PWS patients were hungrier than controls before and after eating. The probability of being hungry was associated with baseline BDNF levels: every 50-unit increment in BDNF decreased the odds of being hungry by 22% (OR: 0.78, 95%CI: 0.65-0.94). In uniparental disomy, the odds of being hungry decreased by 66% (OR: 0.34, 90%CI: 0.13-0.9). Postprandial leptin patterns did no differ among genetic subtypes.

Conclusions: Low baseline BDNF levels and lack of postprandial peak may contribute to persistent hunger after meals. Uniparental disomy is the genetic subtype of PWS least affected by these factors.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0163468PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5042477PMC
September 2016

Towards a neurophysiological signature for fibromyalgia.

Pain 2017 01;158(1):34-47

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.

Patients with fibromyalgia (FM) show characteristically enhanced unpleasantness to painful and nonpainful sensations accompanied by altered neural responses. The diagnostic potential of such neural alterations, including their sensitivity and specificity to FM (vs healthy controls) is unknown. We identify a brain signature that characterizes FM central pathophysiology at the neural systems level. We included 37 patients with FM and 35 matched healthy controls, and analyzed functional magnetic resonance imaging responses to (1) painful pressure and (2) nonpainful multisensory (visual-auditory-tactile) stimulation. We used machine-learning techniques to identify a brain-based FM signature. When exposed to the same painful stimuli, patients with FM showed greater neurologic pain signature (NPS; Wager et al., 2013. An fMRI-based neurologic signature of physical pain. N Engl J Med 2013;368:1388-97) responses. In addition, a new pain-related classifier ("FM-pain") revealed augmented responses in sensory integration (insula/operculum) and self-referential (eg, medial prefrontal) regions in FM and reduced responses in the lateral frontal cortex. A "multisensory" classifier trained on nonpainful sensory stimulation revealed augmented responses in the insula/operculum, posterior cingulate, and medial prefrontal regions and reduced responses in the primary/secondary sensory cortices, basal ganglia, and cerebellum. Combined activity in the NPS, FM pain, and multisensory patterns classified patients vs controls with 92% sensitivity and 94% specificity in out-of-sample individuals. Enhanced NPS responses partly mediated mechanical hypersensitivity and correlated with depression and disability (Puncorrected < 0.05); FM-pain and multisensory responses correlated with clinical pain (Puncorrected < 0.05). The study provides initial characterization of individual patients with FM based on pathophysiological, symptom-related brain features. If replicated, these brain features may constitute objective neural targets for therapeutic interventions. The results establish a framework for assessing therapeutic mechanisms and predicting treatment response at the individual level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000707DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5161739PMC
January 2017

Video gaming in school children: How much is enough?

Ann Neurol 2016 09 22;80(3):424-33. Epub 2016 Aug 22.

Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: Despite extensive debate, the proposed benefits and risks of video gaming in young people remain to be empirically clarified, particularly as regards an optimal level of use.

Methods: In 2,442 children aged 7 to 11 years, we investigated relationships between weekly video game use, selected cognitive abilities, and conduct-related problems. A large subgroup of these children (n = 260) was further examined with magnetic resonance imaging approximately 1 year later to assess the impact of video gaming on brain structure and function.

Results: Playing video games for 1 hour per week was associated with faster and more consistent psychomotor responses to visual stimulation. Remarkably, no further change in motor speed was identified in children playing >2 hours per week. By comparison, the weekly time spent gaming was steadily associated with conduct problems, peer conflicts, and reduced prosocial abilities. These negative implications were clearly visible only in children at the extreme of our game-playing distribution, with 9 hours or more of video gaming per week. At a neural level, changes associated with gaming were most evident in basal ganglia white matter and functional connectivity.

Interpretation: Significantly better visuomotor skills can be seen in school children playing video games, even with relatively small amounts of use. Frequent weekly use, by contrast, was associated with conduct problems. Further studies are needed to determine whether moderate video gaming causes improved visuomotor skills and whether excessive video gaming causes conduct problems, or whether children who already have these characteristics simply play more video games. Ann Neurol 2016;80:424-433.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24745DOI Listing
September 2016

Airborne copper exposure in school environments associated with poorer motor performance and altered basal ganglia.

Brain Behav 2016 06 22;6(6):e00467. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) Barcelona Catalonia Spain; Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona Catalonia Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP) Barcelona Spain; IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) Barcelona Catalonia Spain.

Introduction: Children are more vulnerable to the effects of environmental elements. A variety of air pollutants are among the identified factors causing neural damage at toxic concentrations. It is not obvious, however, to what extent the tolerated high levels of air pollutants are able to alter brain development. We have specifically investigated the neurotoxic effects of airborne copper exposure in school environments.

Methods: Speed and consistency of motor response were assessed in 2836 children aged from 8 to 12 years. Anatomical MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and functional MRI were used to directly test the brain repercussions in a subgroup of 263 children.

Results: Higher copper exposure was associated with poorer motor performance and altered structure of the basal ganglia. Specifically, the architecture of the caudate nucleus region was less complete in terms of both tissue composition and neural track water diffusion. Functional MRI consistently showed a reciprocal connectivity reduction between the caudate nucleus and the frontal cortex.

Conclusions: The results establish an association between environmental copper exposure in children and alterations of basal ganglia structure and function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/brb3.467DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842931PMC
June 2016

Attenuated frontal and sensory inputs to the basal ganglia in cannabis users.

Addict Biol 2017 Jul 3;22(4):1036-1047. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigació Biomédica August Pi I Sunyer (IDIBAPS), CIBERSAM G25, Barcelona, Spain.

Heavy cannabis use is associated with reduced motivation. The basal ganglia, central in the motivation system, have the brain's highest cannabinoid receptor density. The frontal lobe is functionally coupled to the basal ganglia via segregated frontal-subcortical circuits conveying information from internal, self-generated activity. The basal ganglia, however, receive additional influence from the sensory system to further modulate purposeful behaviors according to the context. We postulated that cannabis use would impact functional connectivity between the basal ganglia and both internal (frontal cortex) and external (sensory cortices) sources of influence. Resting-state functional connectivity was measured in 28 chronic cannabis users and 29 controls. Selected behavioral tests included reaction time, verbal fluency and exposition to affective pictures. Assessments were repeated after one month of abstinence. Cannabis exposure was associated with (1) attenuation of the positive correlation between the striatum and areas pertaining to the 'limbic' frontal-basal ganglia circuit, and (2) attenuation of the negative correlation between the striatum and the fusiform gyrus, which is critical in recognizing significant visual features. Connectivity alterations were associated with lower arousal in response to affective pictures. Functional connectivity changes had a tendency to normalize after abstinence. The results overall indicate that frontal and sensory inputs to the basal ganglia are attenuated after chronic exposure to cannabis. This effect is consistent with the common behavioral consequences of chronic cannabis use concerning diminished responsiveness to both internal and external motivation signals. Such an impairment of the fine-tuning in the motivation system notably reverts after abstinence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.12370DOI Listing
July 2017

Traffic pollution exposure is associated with altered brain connectivity in school children.

Neuroimage 2016 Apr 26;129:175-184. Epub 2016 Jan 26.

Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Ciber on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Spain; IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of environmental elements due to their active developmental processes. Exposure to urban air pollution has been associated with poorer cognitive performance, which is thought to be a result of direct interference with brain maturation. We aimed to assess the extent of such potential effects of urban pollution on child brain maturation using general indicators of vehicle exhaust measured in the school environment and a comprehensive imaging evaluation. A group of 263 children, aged 8 to 12 years, underwent MRI to quantify regional brain volumes, tissue composition, myelination, cortical thickness, neural tract architecture, membrane metabolites, functional connectivity in major neural networks and activation/deactivation dynamics during a sensory task. A combined measurement of elemental carbon and NO2 was used as a putative marker of vehicle exhaust. Air pollution exposure was associated with brain changes of a functional nature, with no evident effect on brain anatomy, structure or membrane metabolites. Specifically, a higher content of pollutants was associated with lower functional integration and segregation in key brain networks relevant to both inner mental processes (the default mode network) and stimulus-driven mental operations. Age and performance (motor response speed) both showed the opposite effect to that of pollution, thus indicating that higher exposure is associated with slower brain maturation. In conclusion, urban air pollution appears to adversely affect brain maturation in a critical age with changes specifically concerning the functional domain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.01.036DOI Listing
April 2016

Anomalous basal ganglia connectivity and obsessive-compulsive behaviour in patients with Prader Willi syndrome.

J Psychiatry Neurosci 2016 06;41(4):261-71

From the MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain (Pujol, Blanco-Hinojo, Deus, Macià); the Centro Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM G21, Barcelona, Spain (Pujol); the Human Pharmacology and Clinical Neurosciences, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain (Blanco-Hinojo); the Parc Hospitalari Martí i Julià, Salt, Girona, Spain (Esteba-Castillo, Novell-Alsina); the Endocrinology and Nutrition Department. Sabadell University Hospital (UAB), Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí, Sabadell, Spain (Caixàs, Rigla); the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (Harrison); the Endocrinology and Nutrition Department, University Hospital Arnau de Vilanova, Lleida, Spain (Bueno); the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain (Deus); and the Rheumatology Department, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain (Onaindia).

Background: Prader Willi syndrome is a genetic disorder with a behavioural expression characterized by the presence of obsessive-compulsive phenomena ranging from elaborate obsessive eating behaviour to repetitive skin picking. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been recently associated with abnormal functional coupling between the frontal cortex and basal ganglia. We have tested the potential association of functional connectivity anomalies in basal ganglia circuits with obsessive-compulsive behaviour in patients with Prader Willi syndrome.

Methods: We analyzed resting-state functional MRI in adult patients and healthy controls. Whole-brain functional connectivity maps were generated for the dorsal and ventral aspects of the caudate nucleus and putamen. A selected obsessive-compulsive behaviour assessment included typical OCD compulsions, self picking and obsessive eating behaviour.

Results: We included 24 adults with Prader Willi syndrome and 29 controls in our study. Patients with Prader Willi syndrome showed abnormal functional connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia and within subcortical structures that correlated with the presence and severity of obsessive-compulsive behaviours. In addition, abnormally heightened functional connectivity was identified in the primary sensorimotor cortex-putamen loop, which was strongly associated with self picking. Finally, obsessive eating behaviour correlated with abnormal functional connectivity both within the basal ganglia loops and between the striatum and the hypothalamus and the amygdala.

Limitations: Limitations of the study include the difficulty in evaluating the nature of content of obsessions in patients with Prader Willi Syndrome and the risk of excessive head motion artifact on brain imaging.

Conclusion: Patients with Prader Willi syndrome showed broad functional connectivity anomalies combining prefrontal loop alterations characteristic of OCD with 1) enhanced coupling in the primary sensorimotor loop that correlated with the most impulsive aspects of the behaviour and 2) reduced coupling of the ventral striatum with limbic structures for basic internal homeostasis that correlated with the obsession to eat.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915935PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/jpn.140338DOI Listing
June 2016

Cloninger's psychobiological model of personality and psychological distress in fibromyalgia.

Int J Rheum Dis 2016 Sep 5;19(9):852-63. Epub 2014 Dec 5.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Aim: Personality can play an important role in the clinical symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM). The aim of this study is to identify personality profiles in FM patients and the possible presence of personality disorder (PD) from the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised (TCI-R), and to assess whether personality dimensions are related to psychological distress in FM.

Method: The sample consisted of 42 patients with FM and 38 healthy controls. The TCI-R, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Short-Form-36 Health Survey, Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and McGill Pain Questionnaire were administered.

Results: The personality profile of the FM group based on the TCI-R is defined by high Harm Avoidance (HA), low Novelty Seeking (NS), and low Self-Directedness (SD). Only one-third of patients with FM present a possible psychometric PD, principally from Cluster C. In the FM group, HA and SD are associated positively and negatively, respectively, with indicators of emotional distress. Patients with higher HA present higher perceived pain intensity rated via a verbal-numerical scale while Determination (SD2) reduced the perceived level of pain induced by the stimulus. NS is negatively related to the number of work absences caused by FM.

Conclusions: The study suggests that HA and SD play an important role in psychological distress in FM. The fact that SD is prone to modification and has a regulatory effect on emotional impulses is a key aspect to consider from the psychotherapeutic point of view.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1756-185X.12473DOI Listing
September 2016

Anomalous brain functional connectivity contributing to poor adaptive behavior in Down syndrome.

Cortex 2015 Mar 28;64:148-56. Epub 2014 Oct 28.

Human Pharmacology and Clinical Neurosciences, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain; CIBER-Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), S. de Compostela, Spain. Electronic address:

Research in Down syndrome has substantially progressed in the understanding of the effect of gene overexpression at the molecular level, but there is a paucity of information on the ultimate consequences on overall brain functional organization. We have assessed the brain functional status in Down syndrome using functional connectivity MRI. Resting-state whole-brain connectivity degree maps were generated in 20 Down syndrome individuals and 20 control subjects to identify sites showing anomalous synchrony with other areas. A subsequent region-of-interest mapping served to detail the anomalies and to assess their potential contribution to poor adaptive behavior. Down syndrome individuals showed higher regional connectivity in a ventral brain system involving the amygdala/anterior temporal region and the ventral aspect of both the anterior cingulate and frontal cortices. By contrast, lower functional connectivity was identified in dorsal executive networks involving dorsal prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices and posterior insula. Both functional connectivity increases and decreases contributed to account for patient scoring on adaptive behavior related to communication skills. The data overall suggest a distinctive functional organization with system-specific anomalies associated with reduced adaptive efficiency. Opposite effects were identified on distinct frontal and anterior temporal structures and relative sparing of posterior brain areas, which is generally consistent with Down syndrome cognitive profile. Relevantly, measurable connectivity changes, as a marker of the brain functional anomaly, could have a role in the development of therapeutic strategies addressed to improve the quality of life in Down syndrome individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2014.10.012DOI Listing
March 2015

Naproxen effects on brain response to painful pressure stimulation in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, single-dose study.

J Rheumatol 2014 Nov 1;41(11):2240-8. Epub 2014 Oct 1.

From the MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar; Rheumatology Department, Hospital del Mar; Centro Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM G21; Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Autonomous University of Barcelona; Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Psychiatry Department, Bellvitge University Hospital, CYBERSAM; Cell Research Group in Inflammation and Cartilage, Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques, Barcelona, Spain; Neurosciences Centers of Excellence for Drug Discovery (CEDD), GlaxoSmithKline, London, UK; Pfizer, Neusentis, Cambridge, UK; Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.M. Giménez, PhD; O. Contreras-Rodríguez, PhD; H. Ortiz, MsC, MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar, Hospital del Mar; J. Pujol, MD, MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar, Hospital del Mar, Centro Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM G21; Z. Ali, PhD, Neurosciences CEDD, GlaxoSmithKline; M. López-Solà, PhD, MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar, Hospital del Mar, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado; J. Deus, PhD, MRI Research Unit, CRC Mar, Hospital del Mar, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Autonomous University of Barcelona; C. Soriano-Mas, PhD, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute-IDIBELL, Psychiatry Department, Bellvitge University Hospital, CIBERSAM; J. Llorente-Onaindia, MsC; J. Monfort, MD, PhD, Rheumatology Department, Hospital del Mar, Cell Research Group in Inflammation and Cartilage, Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques.

Objective: The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of naproxen, an antiinflammatory analgesic drug, on brain response to painful stimulation on the affected knee in chronic osteoarthritis (OA) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Methods: A sample of 25 patients with knee OA received naproxen (500 mg), placebo, or no treatment in 3 separate sessions in a randomized manner. Pressure stimulation was applied to the medial articular interline of the knee during the fMRI pain sequence. We evaluated subjective pain ratings at every session and their association with brain responses to pain. An fMRI control paradigm was included to discard global brain vascular effects of naproxen.

Results: We found brain activation reductions under naproxen compared to no treatment in different cortical and subcortical core pain processing regions (p≤0.001). Compared to placebo, naproxen triggered an attenuation of amygdala activation (p=0.001). Placebo extended its attenuation effects beyond the classical pain processing network (p≤0.001). Subjective pain scores during the fMRI painful task differed between naproxen and no treatment (p=0.037). Activation attenuation under naproxen in different regions (i.e., ventral brain, cingulate gyrus) was accompanied by an improvement in the subjective pain complaints (p≤0.002).

Conclusion: Naproxen effectively reduces pain-related brain responses involving different regions and the attenuation is related to subjective pain changes. Our current work yields further support to the utility of fMRI to objectify the acute analgesic effects of a single naproxen dose in patients affected by knee OA. The trial was registered at the EuropeanClinicalTrials Database, "EudraCT Number 2008-004501-33".
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3899/jrheum.131367DOI Listing
November 2014

Altered functional magnetic resonance imaging responses to nonpainful sensory stimulation in fibromyalgia patients.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2014 Nov;66(11):3200-9

University of Colorado Boulder, and Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder characterized by chronic pain and enhanced responses to acute noxious events. However, the sensory systems affected in FM may extend beyond pain itself, as FM patients show reduced tolerance to non-nociceptive sensory stimulation. Characterizing the neural substrates of multisensory hypersensitivity in FM may thus provide important clues about the underlying pathophysiology of the disorder. The aim of this study was to characterize brain responses to non-nociceptive sensory stimulation in FM patients and their relationship to subjective sensory sensitivity and clinical pain severity.

Methods: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess brain response to auditory, visual, and tactile motor stimulation in 35 women with FM and 25 matched controls. Correlation and mediation analyses were performed to establish the relationship between brain responses and 3 types of outcomes: subjective hypersensitivity to daily sensory stimulation, spontaneous pain, and functional disability.

Results: Patients reported increased subjective sensitivity (increased unpleasantness) in response to multisensory stimulation in daily life. Functional MRI revealed that patients showed reduced task-evoked activation in primary/secondary visual and auditory areas and augmented responses in the insula and anterior lingual gyrus. Reduced responses in visual and auditory areas were correlated with subjective sensory hypersensitivity and clinical severity measures.

Conclusion: FM patients showed strong attenuation of brain responses to nonpainful events in early sensory cortices, accompanied by an amplified response at later stages of sensory integration in the insula. These abnormalities are associated with core FM symptoms, suggesting that they may be part of the pathophysiology of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.38781DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410766PMC
November 2014

Does motion-related brain functional connectivity reflect both artifacts and genuine neural activity?

Neuroimage 2014 Nov 3;101:87-95. Epub 2014 Jul 3.

Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Imaging research on functional connectivity is uniquely contributing to characterize the functional organization of the human brain. Functional connectivity measurements, however, may be significantly influenced by head motion that occurs during image acquisition. The identification of how motion influences such measurements is therefore highly relevant to the interpretation of a study's results. We have mapped the effect of head motion on functional connectivity in six different populations representing a wide range of potential influences of motion on functional connectivity. Group-level voxel-wise maps of the correlation between a summary head motion measurement and functional connectivity degree were estimated in 80 young adults, 71 children, 53 older adults, 20 patients with Down syndrome, 24 with Prader-Willi syndrome and 20 with Williams syndrome. In highly compliant young adults, motion correlated with functional connectivity measurements showing a system-specific anatomy involving the sensorimotor cortex, visual areas and default mode network. Further characterization was strongly indicative of these changes expressing genuine neural activity related to motion, as opposed to pure motion artifact. In the populations with larger head motion, results were more indicative of widespread artifacts, but showing notably distinct spatial distribution patterns. Group-level regression of motion effects was efficient in removing both generalized changes and changes putatively related to neural activity. Overall, this study endorses a relatively simple approach for mapping distinct effects of head motion on functional connectivity. Importantly, our findings support the intriguing hypothesis that a component of motion-related changes may reflect system-specific neural activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.06.065DOI Listing
November 2014