Publications by authors named "Sebastian Jentschke"

30 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Cortical thickness and resting-state cardiac function across the lifespan: A cross-sectional pooled mega-analysis.

Psychophysiology 2020 Oct 10. Epub 2020 Oct 10.

Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Understanding the association between autonomic nervous system [ANS] function and brain morphology across the lifespan provides important insights into neurovisceral mechanisms underlying health and disease. Resting-state ANS activity, indexed by measures of heart rate [HR] and its variability [HRV] has been associated with brain morphology, particularly cortical thickness [CT]. While findings have been mixed regarding the anatomical distribution and direction of the associations, these inconsistencies may be due to sex and age differences in HR/HRV and CT. Previous studies have been limited by small sample sizes, which impede the assessment of sex differences and aging effects on the association between ANS function and CT. To overcome these limitations, 20 groups worldwide contributed data collected under similar protocols of CT assessment and HR/HRV recording to be pooled in a mega-analysis (N = 1,218 (50.5% female), mean age 36.7 years (range: 12-87)). Findings suggest a decline in HRV as well as CT with increasing age. CT, particularly in the orbitofrontal cortex, explained additional variance in HRV, beyond the effects of aging. This pattern of results may suggest that the decline in HRV with increasing age is related to a decline in orbitofrontal CT. These effects were independent of sex and specific to HRV; with no significant association between CT and HR. Greater CT across the adult lifespan may be vital for the maintenance of healthy cardiac regulation via the ANS-or greater cardiac vagal activity as indirectly reflected in HRV may slow brain atrophy. Findings reveal an important association between CT and cardiac parasympathetic activity with implications for healthy aging and longevity that should be studied further in longitudinal research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13688DOI Listing
October 2020

Volume reduction of caudate nucleus is associated with movement coordination deficits in patients with hippocampal atrophy due to perinatal hypoxia-ischaemia.

Neuroimage Clin 2020 15;28:102429. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychiatry Section, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Acute sentinel hypoxia-ischaemia in neonates can target the hippocampus, mammillary bodies, thalamus, and the basal ganglia. Our previous work with paediatric patients with a history of hypoxia-ischaemia has revealed hippocampal and diencephalic damage that impacts cognitive memory. However, the structural and functional status of other brain regions vulnerable to hypoxia-ischaemia, such as the basal ganglia, has not been investigated in these patients. Furthermore, it is not known whether there are any behavioural sequelae of such damage, especially in patients with no diagnosis of neurological disorder. Based on the established role of the basal ganglia and the thalamus in movement coordination, we studied manual motor function in 20 participants exposed to neonatal hypoxia-ischaemia, and a group of 17 healthy controls of comparable age. The patients' handwriting speed and accuracy was within the normal range (Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting), and their movement adaptation learning (Rotary Pursuit task) was comparable to the control group's performance. However, as a group, patients showed an impairment in the Grooved Pegboard task and a trend for impairment in speed of movement while performing the Rotary Pursuit task, suggesting that some patients have subtle deficits in fine, complex hand movements. Voxel-based morphometry and volumetry showed bilateral reduction in grey matter volume of the thalamus and caudate nucleus. Reduced volumes in the caudate nucleus correlated across patients with performance on the Grooved Pegboard task. In summary, the fine movement coordination deficit affecting the hand and the wrist in patients exposed to early hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury may be related to reduced volumes of the caudate nucleus, and consistent with anecdotal parental reports of clumsiness and coordination difficulties in this cohort.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102429DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7530343PMC
September 2020

The Association Between Juvenile Onset of Depression and Emotion Regulation Difficulties.

Front Psychol 2019 18;10:2262. Epub 2019 Oct 18.

Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Juvenile onset of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is associated with increased likelihood of recurrent episodes of depression and more detrimental clinical trajectories. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of juvenile onset of MDD on emotion regulation as measured by self-report and Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Furthermore, we wanted to assess whether juvenile onset impacted the association between rumination and depressive symptoms. Sixty-four individuals with at least three prior episodes of MDD were recruited and filled out self-report questionnaires measuring rumination and emotion regulation abilities. In addition, electrocardiographic assessments were used to calculate HRV. Based on self-reported age of MDD onset, individuals were divided in two groups: Juvenile onset of MDD (first MDD episode before the age of 18, = 30) and adult onset of MDD (first MDD episode after the age of 18, = 34). Results showed that individuals whose first depressive episode occurred in childhood and adolescence reported more rumination and less emotional clarity compared to individuals who had their first episode of MDD in adulthood. Moreover, the tendency to ruminate was strongly associated with depressive symptoms in the juvenile onset of MDD group, whereas no such association was found in the adult onset group. There was no significant group difference for HRV. The findings are discussed in light of existing literature, in addition to suggesting how our findings may inform clinical practice and future research. We conclude that juvenile onset of MDD may lead to difficulties in emotion regulation and that these difficulties may increase depressive symptoms and vulnerability for relapse in this particular subgroup.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02262DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6816416PMC
October 2019

Author Correction: When the statistical MMN meets the physical MMN.

Sci Rep 2019 Nov 5;9(1):16394. Epub 2019 Nov 5.

University of Bergen, Department for Biological and Medical Psychology, Postboks 7807, 5020, Bergen, Norway.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52009-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6828754PMC
November 2019

Heroic music stimulates empowering thoughts during mind-wandering.

Sci Rep 2019 07 16;9(1):10317. Epub 2019 Jul 16.

University of Bergen, Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, Postboks 7807, 5020, Bergen, Norway.

It is generally well-known, and scientifically well established, that music affects emotions and moods. However, only little is known about the influence of music on thoughts. This scarcity is particularly surprising given the importance of the valence of thoughts for psychological health and well-being. We presented excerpts of heroic- and sad-sounding music to n = 62 individuals, and collected thought probes after each excerpt, assessing the valence and the nature of thoughts stimulated by the music. Our results show that mind-wandering emerged during listening to either type of music (heroic, sad), and that the type of music strongly influenced the thought contents during mind-wandering. Heroic-sounding music evoked more positive, exciting, constructive, and motivating thoughts, while sad-sounding music evoked more calm or demotivating thoughts. The results thus indicate that music has a strong effect on the valence of thought contents during mind-wandering, with heroic music evoking more empowering and motivating thoughts, and sad music more relaxing or depressive thoughts. These findings have important implications for the use of music in everyday life to promote health and well-being in both clinical populations and healthy individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46266-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6635482PMC
July 2019

When the statistical MMN meets the physical MMN.

Sci Rep 2019 04 3;9(1):5563. Epub 2019 Apr 3.

University of Bergen, Department for Biological and Medical Psychology, Postboks 7807, 5020, Bergen, Norway.

How do listeners respond to prediction errors within patterned sequence of sounds? To answer this question we carried out a statistical learning study using electroencephalography (EEG). In a continuous auditory stream of sound triplets the deviations were either (a) statistical, in terms of transitional probability, (b) physical, due to a change in sound location (left or right speaker) or (c) a double deviants, i.e. a combination of the two. Statistical and physical deviants elicited a statistical mismatch negativity and a physical MMN respectively. Most importantly, we found that effects of statistical and physical deviants interacted (the statistical MMN was smaller when co-occurring with a physical deviant). Results show, for the first time, that processing of prediction errors due to statistical learning is affected by prediction errors due to physical deviance. Our findings thus show that the statistical MMN interacts with the physical MMN, implying that prediction error processing due to physical sound attributes suppresses processing of learned statistical properties of sounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-42066-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6447621PMC
April 2019

Under the hood of statistical learning: A statistical MMN reflects the magnitude of transitional probabilities in auditory sequences.

Sci Rep 2016 Feb 2;6:19741. Epub 2016 Feb 2.

Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Kunst- und Musikwissenschaft, Dresden, 01219, Germany.

Within the framework of statistical learning, many behavioural studies investigated the processing of unpredicted events. However, surprisingly few neurophysiological studies are available on this topic, and no statistical learning experiment has investigated electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates of processing events with different transition probabilities. We carried out an EEG study with a novel variant of the established statistical learning paradigm. Timbres were presented in isochronous sequences of triplets. The first two sounds of all triplets were equiprobable, while the third sound occurred with either low (10%), intermediate (30%), or high (60%) probability. Thus, the occurrence probability of the third item of each triplet (given the first two items) was varied. Compared to high-probability triplet endings, endings with low and intermediate probability elicited an early anterior negativity that had an onset around 100 ms and was maximal at around 180 ms. This effect was larger for events with low than for events with intermediate probability. Our results reveal that, when predictions are based on statistical learning, events that do not match a prediction evoke an early anterior negativity, with the amplitude of this mismatch response being inversely related to the probability of such events. Thus, we report a statistical mismatch negativity (sMMN) that reflects statistical learning of transitional probability distributions that go beyond auditory sensory memory capabilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep19741DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735647PMC
February 2016

Music Perception Influences Language Acquisition: Melodic and Rhythmic-Melodic Perception in Children with Specific Language Impairment.

Behav Neurol 2015 5;2015:606470. Epub 2015 Oct 5.

Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster "Languages of Emotion", Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

Language and music share many properties, with a particularly strong overlap for prosody. Prosodic cues are generally regarded as crucial for language acquisition. Previous research has indicated that children with SLI fail to make use of these cues. As processing of prosodic information involves similar skills to those required in music perception, we compared music perception skills (melodic and rhythmic-melodic perception and melody recognition) in a group of children with SLI (N = 29, five-year-olds) to two groups of controls, either of comparable age (N = 39, five-year-olds) or of age closer to the children with SLI in their language skills and about one year younger (N = 13, four-year-olds). Children with SLI performed in most tasks below their age level, closer matching the performance level of younger controls with similar language skills. These data strengthen the view of a strong relation between language acquisition and music processing. This might open a perspective for the possible use of musical material in early diagnosis of SLI and of music in SLI therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/606470DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610061PMC
July 2016

Hippocampal Volume Reduction in Humans Predicts Impaired Allocentric Spatial Memory in Virtual-Reality Navigation.

J Neurosci 2015 Oct;35(42):14123-31

Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychiatry Section, University College London Institute of Child Health, and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom,

Unlabelled: The extent to which navigational spatial memory depends on hippocampal integrity in humans is not well documented. We investigated allocentric spatial recall using a virtual environment in a group of patients with severe hippocampal damage (SHD), a group of patients with "moderate" hippocampal damage (MHD), and a normal control group. Through four learning blocks with feedback, participants learned the target locations of four different objects in a circular arena. Distal cues were present throughout the experiment to provide orientation. A circular boundary as well as an intra-arena landmark provided spatial reference frames. During a subsequent test phase, recall of all four objects was tested with only the boundary or the landmark being present. Patients with SHD were impaired in both phases of this task. Across groups, performance on both types of spatial recall was highly correlated with memory quotient (MQ), but not with intelligence quotient (IQ), age, or sex. However, both measures of spatial recall separated experimental groups beyond what would be expected based on MQ, a widely used measure of general memory function. Boundary-based and landmark-based spatial recall were both strongly related to bilateral hippocampal volumes, but not to volumes of the thalamus, putamen, pallidum, nucleus accumbens, or caudate nucleus. The results show that boundary-based and landmark-based allocentric spatial recall are similarly impaired in patients with SHD, that both types of recall are impaired beyond that predicted by MQ, and that recall deficits are best explained by a reduction in bilateral hippocampal volumes.

Significance Statement: In humans, bilateral hippocampal atrophy can lead to profound impairments in episodic memory. Across species, perhaps the most well-established contribution of the hippocampus to memory is not to episodic memory generally but to allocentric spatial memory. However, the extent to which navigational spatial memory depends on hippocampal integrity in humans is not well documented. We investigated spatial recall using a virtual environment in two groups of patients with hippocampal damage (moderate/severe) and a normal control group. The results showed that patients with severe hippocampal damage are impaired in learning and recalling allocentric spatial information. Furthermore, hippocampal volume reduction impaired allocentric navigation beyond what can be predicted by memory quotient as a widely used measure of general memory function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0801-15.2015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4683681PMC
October 2015

Sexual Dimorphism in White Matter Developmental Trajectories Using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics.

Brain Connect 2016 Feb 30;6(1):37-47. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

1 UCL Institute of Child Health , London, United Kingdom .

Increasing evidence is emerging for sexual dimorphism in the trajectory of white matter development in children assessed using volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and more recently diffusion MRI. Recent studies using diffusion MRI have examined cohorts with a wide age range (typically between 5 and 30 years) showing focal regions of differential diffusivity and fractional anisotropy (FA) and have implicated puberty as a possible contributory factor. To further investigate possible dimorphic trajectories in a young cohort, presumably closer to the expected onset of puberty, we used tract-based spatial statistics to investigate diffusion metrics. The cohort consisted of 23 males and 30 females between the ages of 8 and 16 years. Differences in diffusion metrics were corrected for age, total brain volume, and full scale IQ. In contrast to previous studies showing focal differences between males and females, widespread sexually dimorphic trajectories in structural white matter development were observed. These differences were characterized by more advanced development in females compared to males indicated by lower mean diffusivity, radial and axial diffusivity, and higher FA in females. This difference appeared to be larger at lower ages (8-9 years) with diffusion measures from males and females tending to converge between 10 and 14 years of age. Males showed a steeper slope for age-diffusion metric correlations compared to females, who either did not correlate with age or correlated in fewer regions. Further studies are now warranted to determine the role of hormones on the observed differences, particularly in 8-9-year-old children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/brain.2015.0340DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744889PMC
February 2016

Effects of Aesthetic Chills on a Cardiac Signature of Emotionality.

PLoS One 2015 17;10(6):e0130117. Epub 2015 Jun 17.

Cluster "Languages of Emotion", Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Background: Previous studies have shown that a cardiac signature of emotionality (referred to as EK, which can be computed from the standard 12 lead electrocardiogram, ECG), predicts inter-individual differences in the tendency to experience and express positive emotion. Here, we investigated whether EK values can be transiently modulated during stimulation with participant-selected music pieces and film scenes that elicit strongly positive emotion.

Methodology/principal Findings: The phenomenon of aesthetic chills, as indicated by measurable piloerection on the forearm, was used to accurately locate moments of peak emotional responses during stimulation. From 58 healthy participants, continuous EK values, heart rate, and respiratory frequency were recorded during stimulation with film scenes and music pieces, and were related to the aesthetic chills. EK values, as well as heart rate, increased significantly during moments of peak positive emotion accompanied by piloerection.

Conclusions/significance: These results are the first to provide evidence for an influence of momentary psychological state on a cardiac signature of emotional personality (as reflected in EK values). The possibility to modulate ECG amplitude signatures via stimulation with emotionally significant music pieces and film scenes opens up new perspectives for the use of emotional peak experiences in the therapy of disorders characterized by flattened emotionality, such as depression or schizoid personality disorder.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130117PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470584PMC
April 2016

Neural correlates of music-syntactic processing in two-year old children.

Dev Cogn Neurosci 2014 Jul 20;9:200-8. Epub 2014 May 20.

Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster "Languages of Emotion", Berlin, Germany. Electronic address:

Music is a basic and ubiquitous socio-cognitive domain. However, our understanding of the time course of the development of music perception, particularly regarding implicit knowledge of music-syntactic regularities, remains contradictory and incomplete. Some authors assume that the acquisition of knowledge about these regularities lasts until late childhood, but there is also evidence for the presence of such knowledge in four- and five-year-olds. To explore whether such knowledge is already present in younger children, we tested whether 30-month-olds (N=62) show neurophysiological responses to music-syntactically irregular harmonies. We observed an early right anterior negativity in response to both irregular in-key and out-of-key chords. The N5, a brain response usually present in older children and adults, was not observed, indicating that processes of harmonic integration (as reflected in the N5) are still in development in this age group. In conclusion, our results indicate that 30-month-olds already have acquired implicit knowledge of complex harmonic music-syntactic regularities and process musical information according to this knowledge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2014.04.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6989737PMC
July 2014

Differential effects of early life stress on hippocampus and amygdala volume as a function of emotional abilities.

Hippocampus 2014 Sep 26;24(9):1094-101. Epub 2014 Apr 26.

Cluster of Excellence "Languages of Emotion", Freie Universität Berlin, 14195, Berlin, Germany; Dahlem Institute for Neuroimaging of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin, 14195, Berlin, Germany; Department of Psychiatry, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 14150, Berlin, Germany.

Early life stress (ELS) is known to have considerable influence on brain development and affective functioning. Previous studies in clinical populations have shown that hippocampus and amygdala, two central structures of limbic emotion processing circuits, are predominantly affected by early stress exposure. Given the inconsistent findings on ELS-related effects in healthy populations and the associations of ELS and affective functioning, the question arises which additional emotion-relevant variables need to be considered to better understand the effects of ELS. We, therefore, investigated the volume of hippocampus and amygdala in 25 high alexithymic (h-ALEX) and 25 low alexithymic (l-ALEX) individuals, which were matched with regard to ELS, but significantly differed in their degree of emotional functioning. Volumetric analyses were performed using FSL-FIRST, a method to automatically segment subcortical structures on T1-weighted magnetic resonance images. Alexithymia was assessed using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire. ELS was assessed by Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) and Early Trauma Inventory. Our data showed that ELS was negatively associated with right hippocampus volume in h-ALEX individuals, while there was no such association in the l-ALEX group. Furthermore, ELS was positively associated with left amygdala volume in l-ALEX individuals, but not in individuals with high levels of alexithymia. The present study emphasizes a substantial relationship between intrapersonal factors, such as alexithymia and neural alterations related to the experience of ELS. Longitudinal study designs are necessary to pursue the question of how emotional abilities interact with individual adaptations to early stress exposure on the neural level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hipo.22293DOI Listing
September 2014

Neonatal hypoxia, hippocampal atrophy, and memory impairment: evidence of a causal sequence.

Cereb Cortex 2015 Jun 15;25(6):1469-76. Epub 2013 Dec 15.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Unit Department of Neuropsychology, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London WC1N 3JH, UK.

Neonates treated for acute respiratory failure experience episodes of hypoxia. The hippocampus, a structure essential for memory, is particularly vulnerable to such insults. Hence, some neonates undergoing treatment for acute respiratory failure might sustain bilateral hippocampal pathology early in life and memory problems later in childhood. We investigated this possibility in a cohort of 40 children who had been treated neonatally for acute respiratory failure but were free of overt neurological impairment. The cohort had mean hippocampal volumes (HVs) significantly below normal control values, memory scores significantly below the standard population means, and memory quotients significantly below those predicted by their full scale IQs. Brain white matter volume also fell below the volume of the controls, but brain gray matter volumes and scores on nonmnemonic neuropsychological tests were within the normal range. Stepwise linear regression models revealed that the cohort's HVs were predictive of degree of memory impairment, and gestational age at treatment was predictive of HVs: the younger the age, the greater the atrophy. We conclude that many neonates treated for acute respiratory failure sustain significant hippocampal atrophy as a result of the associated hypoxia and, consequently, show deficient memory later in life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bht332DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428295PMC
June 2015

Neural correlates of emotional personality: a structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

PLoS One 2013 27;8(11):e77196. Epub 2013 Nov 27.

Department of Psychology & Cluster Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany.

Studies addressing brain correlates of emotional personality have remained sparse, despite the involvement of emotional personality in health and well-being. This study investigates structural and functional brain correlates of psychological and physiological measures related to emotional personality. Psychological measures included neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness scores, as assessed using a standard personality questionnaire. As a physiological measure we used a cardiac amplitude signature, the so-called E κ value (computed from the electrocardiogram) which has previously been related to tender emotionality. Questionnaire scores and E κ values were related to both functional (eigenvector centrality mapping, ECM) and structural (voxel-based morphometry, VBM) neuroimaging data. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were obtained from 22 individuals (12 females) while listening to music (joy, fear, or neutral music). ECM results showed that agreeableness scores correlated with centrality values in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens). Individuals with higher E κ values (indexing higher tender emotionality) showed higher centrality values in the subiculum of the right hippocampal formation. Structural MRI data from an independent sample of 59 individuals (34 females) showed that neuroticism scores correlated with volume of the left amygdaloid complex. In addition, individuals with higher E κ showed larger gray matter volume in the same portion of the subiculum in which individuals with higher E κ showed higher centrality values. Our results highlight a role of the amygdala in neuroticism. Moreover, they indicate that a cardiac signature related to emotionality (E κ) correlates with both function (increased network centrality) and structure (grey matter volume) of the subiculum of the hippocampal formation, suggesting a role of the hippocampal formation for emotional personality. Results are the first to show personality-related differences using eigenvector centrality mapping, and the first to show structural brain differences for a physiological measure associated with personality.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0077196PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842312PMC
September 2014

Optic radiation structure and anatomy in the normally developing brain determined using diffusion MRI and tractography.

Brain Struct Funct 2015 Jan 30;220(1):291-306. Epub 2013 Oct 30.

Imaging and Biophysics Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK,

The optic radiation (OR) is a component of the visual system known to be myelin mature very early in life. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and its unique ability to reconstruct the OR in vivo were used to study structural maturation through analysis of DTI metrics in a cohort of 90 children aged 5-18 years. As the OR is at risk of damage during epilepsy surgery, we measured its position relative to characteristic anatomical landmarks. Anatomical distances, DTI metrics and volume of the OR were investigated for age, gender and hemisphere effects. We observed changes in DTI metrics with age comparable to known trajectories in other white matter tracts. Left lateralization of DTI metrics was observed that showed a gender effect in lateralization. Sexual dimorphism of DTI metrics in the right hemisphere was also found. With respect to OR dimensions, volume was shown to be right lateralised and sexual dimorphism demonstrated for the extent of the left OR. The anatomical results presented for the OR have potentially important applications for neurosurgical planning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00429-013-0655-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286633PMC
January 2015

From understanding to appreciating music cross-culturally.

PLoS One 2013 4;8(9):e72500. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science, Leipzig, Germany ; Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music, University of Gent, Gent, Belgium ; Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

It has long been debated which aspects of music perception are universal and which are developed only after exposure to a specific musical culture. Here we investigated whether "iconic" meaning in Western music, emerging from musical information resembling qualities of objects, or qualities of abstract concepts, can be recognized cross-culturally. To this end we acquired a profile of semantic associations (such as, for example, fight, river, etc.) to Western musical pieces from each participant, and then compared these profiles across cultural groups. Results show that the association profiles between Mafa, an ethnic group from northern Cameroon, and Western listeners are different, but that the Mafa have a consistent association profile, indicating that their associations are strongly informed by their enculturation. Results also show that listeners for whom Western music is novel, but whose association profile was more similar to the mean Western music association profile also had a greater appreciation of the Western music. The data thus show that, to some degree, iconic meaning transcends cultural boundaries, with a high inter-individual variance, probably because meaning in music is prone to be overwritten by individual and cultural experience.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0072500PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762814PMC
April 2014

Processing of hierarchical syntactic structure in music.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2013 Sep 3;110(38):15443-8. Epub 2013 Sep 3.

Cluster: Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

Hierarchical structure with nested nonlocal dependencies is a key feature of human language and can be identified theoretically in most pieces of tonal music. However, previous studies have argued against the perception of such structures in music. Here, we show processing of nonlocal dependencies in music. We presented chorales by J. S. Bach and modified versions in which the hierarchical structure was rendered irregular whereas the local structure was kept intact. Brain electric responses differed between regular and irregular hierarchical structures, in both musicians and nonmusicians. This finding indicates that, when listening to music, humans apply cognitive processes that are capable of dealing with long-distance dependencies resulting from hierarchically organized syntactic structures. Our results reveal that a brain mechanism fundamental for syntactic processing is engaged during the perception of music, indicating that processing of hierarchical structure with nested nonlocal dependencies is not just a key component of human language, but a multidomain capacity of human cognition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1300272110DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780886PMC
September 2013

A rapid, hippocampus-dependent, item-memory signal that initiates context memory in humans.

Curr Biol 2012 Dec 21;22(24):2369-74. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK.

The hippocampus, a structure located in the temporal lobes of the brain, is critical for the ability to recollect contextual details of past episodes. It is still debated whether the hippocampus also enables recognition memory for previously encountered context-free items. Brain imaging and neuropsychological patient studies have both individually provided conflicting answers to this question. We overcame the individual limitations of imaging and behavioral patient studies by combining them and observed a novel relationship between item memory and the hippocampus. We show that interindividual variability of hippocampal volumes in a large patient population with graded levels of hippocampal volume loss and controls correlates with context, but not item-memory performance. Nevertheless, concurrent measures of brain activity using magnetoencephalography reveal an early (350 ms) but sustained hippocampus-dependent signal that evolves from an item signal into a context memory signal. This is temporally distinct from an item-memory signal that is not hippocampus dependent. Thus, we provide evidence for a hippocampus-dependent item-memory process that initiates context retrieval without making a substantial contribution to item recognition performance. Our results reconcile contradictory evidence concerning hippocampal involvement in item memory and show that hippocampus-dependent mnemonic processes are more rapid than previously believed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.10.055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661975PMC
December 2012

Cardiac signatures of personality.

PLoS One 2012 21;7(2):e31441. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Cluster of Excellence Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Background: There are well-established relations between personality and the heart, as evidenced by associations between negative emotions on the one hand, and coronary heart disease or chronic heart failure on the other. However, there are substantial gaps in our knowledge about relations between the heart and personality in healthy individuals. Here, we investigated whether amplitude patterns of the electrocardiogram (ECG) correlate with neurotisicm, extraversion, agreeableness, warmth, positive emotion, and tender-mindedness as measured with the Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness (NEO) personality inventory. Specifically, we investigated (a) whether a cardiac amplitude measure that was previously reported to be related to flattened affectivity (referred to as Eκ values) would explain variance of NEO scores, and (b) whether correlations can be found between NEO scores and amplitudes of the ECG.

Methodology/principal Findings: NEO scores and rest ECGs were obtained from 425 healthy individuals. Neuroticism and positive emotion significantly differed between individuals with high and low Eκ values. In addition, stepwise cross-validated regressions indicated correlations between ECG amplitudes and (a) agreeableness, as well as (b) positive emotion.

Conclusions/significance: These results are the first to demonstrate that ECG amplitude patterns provide information about the personality of an individual as measured with NEO personality scales and facets. These findings open new perspectives for a more efficient personality assessment using cardiac measures, as well as for more efficient risk-stratification and pre-clinical diagnosis of individuals at risk for cardiac, affective and psychosomatic disorders.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0031441PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3283631PMC
June 2012

Normative development of white matter tracts: similarities and differences in relation to age, gender, and intelligence.

Cereb Cortex 2012 Aug 21;22(8):1738-47. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

Imaging & Biophysics Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London WC1N 1EH, UK.

The white matter of the brain undergoes a range of structural changes throughout development; from conception to birth, in infancy, and onwards through childhood and adolescence. Several studies have used diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) to investigate these changes, but a consensus has not yet emerged on which white matter tracts undergo changes in the later stages of development or what the most important driving factors are behind these changes. In this study of typically developing 8- to 16-year-old children, we use a comprehensive data-driven approach based on principal components analysis to identify effects of age, gender, and brain volume on dMRI parameters, as well as their relative importance. We also show that secondary components of these parameters predict full-scale IQ, independently of the age- and gender-related effects. This overarching assessment of the common factors and gender differences in normal white matter tract development will help to advance understanding of this process in late childhood and adolescence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhr243DOI Listing
August 2012

Differences in electric brain responses to melodies and chords.

J Cogn Neurosci 2010 Oct;22(10):2251-62

University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.

The music we usually listen to in everyday life consists of either single melodies or harmonized melodies (i.e., of melodies "accompanied" by chords). However, differences in the neural mechanisms underlying melodic and harmonic processing have remained largely unknown. Using EEG, this study compared effects of music-syntactic processing between chords and melodies. In melody blocks, sequences consisted of five tones, the final tone being either regular or irregular (p = .5). Analogously, in chord blocks, sequences consisted of five chords, the final chord function being either regular or irregular. Melodies were derived from the top voice of chord sequences, allowing a proper comparison between melodic and harmonic processing. Music-syntactic incongruities elicited an early anterior negativity with a latency of approximately 125 msec in both the melody and the chord conditions. This effect was followed in the chord condition, but not in the melody condition, by an additional negative effect that was maximal at approximately 180 msec. Both effects were maximal at frontal electrodes, but the later effect was more broadly distributed over the scalp than the earlier effect. These findings indicate that melodic information (which is also contained in the top voice of chords) is processed earlier and with partly different neural mechanisms than harmonic information of chords.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2009.21338DOI Listing
October 2010

Musical training modulates the development of syntax processing in children.

Neuroimage 2009 Aug 7;47(2):735-44. Epub 2009 May 7.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Music, Stephanstr. 1A, D-04103 Leipzig, German.

The question of how musical training can influence perceptual and cognitive abilities of children has been the subject of numerous past studies. However, evidence showing which neural mechanisms underlie changes in cognitive skills in another domain following musical training has remained sparse. Syntax processing in language and music has been shown to rely on overlapping neural resources, and this study compared the neural correlates of language- and music-syntactic processing between children with and without long-term musical training. Musically trained children had larger amplitudes of the ERAN (early right anterior negativity), elicited by music-syntactic irregularities. Furthermore, the ELAN (early left anterior negativity), a neurophysiological marker of syntax processing in language, was more strongly developed in these children, and they furthermore had an enlarged amplitude of a later negativity, assumed to reflect more sustained syntax processing. Thus, our data suggest that the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying syntax processing in music and language are developed earlier, and more strongly, in children with musical training.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.04.090DOI Listing
August 2009

Universal recognition of three basic emotions in music.

Curr Biol 2009 Apr 19;19(7):573-6. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

It has long been debated which aspects of music perception are universal and which are developed only after exposure to a specific musical culture. Here, we report a crosscultural study with participants from a native African population (Mafa) and Western participants, with both groups being naive to the music of the other respective culture. Experiment 1 investigated the ability to recognize three basic emotions (happy, sad, scared/fearful) expressed in Western music. Results show that the Mafas recognized happy, sad, and scared/fearful Western music excerpts above chance, indicating that the expression of these basic emotions in Western music can be recognized universally. Experiment 2 examined how a spectral manipulation of original, naturalistic music affects the perceived pleasantness of music in Western as well as in Mafa listeners. The spectral manipulation modified, among other factors, the sensory dissonance of the music. The data show that both groups preferred original Western music and also original Mafa music over their spectrally manipulated versions. It is likely that the sensory dissonance produced by the spectral manipulation was at least partly responsible for this effect, suggesting that consonance and permanent sensory dissonance universally influence the perceived pleasantness of music.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2009.02.058DOI Listing
April 2009

Short-term effects of processing musical syntax: an ERP study.

Brain Res 2008 May 4;1212:55-62. Epub 2007 Nov 4.

Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.

We investigated influences of short-term experience on music-syntactic processing, using a chord-sequence paradigm in which sequences ended on a harmony that was syntactically either regular or irregular. In contrast to previous studies (in which block durations were rather short), chord sequences were presented to participants for around 2 h while they were watching a silent movie with subtitles. Results showed that the music-syntactically irregular chord functions elicited an early right anterior negativity (ERAN), and that the ERAN amplitude significantly declined over the course of the experiment. The ERAN has previously been suggested to reflect the processing of music-syntactic irregularities, and the present data show that the cognitive representations of musical regularities are influenced by the repeated presentation of unexpected, irregular harmonies. Because harmonies were task-irrelevant, the data suggest that cognitive representations of musical regularities can change implicitly, i.e., even when listeners do not attend to the harmonies, and when they are presumably oblivious of the changes of such representations. Although the ERAN amplitude was significantly reduced, it was still present towards the end of the experiment at the right anterior electrodes, indicating that cognitive representations of basic music-syntactic regularities cannot easily be erased.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2007.10.078DOI Listing
May 2008

Children with specific language impairment also show impairment of music-syntactic processing.

J Cogn Neurosci 2008 Nov;20(11):1940-51

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstrasse 1A, Leipzig, Germany.

Both language and music consist of sequences that are structured according to syntactic regularities. We used two specific event-related brain potential (ERP) components to investigate music-syntactic processing in children: the ERAN (early right anterior negativity) and the N5. The neural resources underlying these processes have been posited to overlap with those involved in the processing of linguistic syntax. Thus, we expected children with specific language impairment (SLI, which is characterized by deficient processing of linguistic syntax) to demonstrate difficulties with music-syntactic processing. Such difficulties were indeed observed in the neural correlates of music-syntactic processing: neither an ERAN nor an N5 was elicited in children with SLI, whereas both components were evoked in age-matched control children with typical language development. Moreover, the amplitudes of ERAN and N5 were correlated with subtests of a language development test. These data provide evidence for a strong interrelation between the language and the music processing system, thereby setting the ground for possible effects of musical training in SLI therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2008.20135DOI Listing
November 2008

EEG correlates of moderate intermittent explosive disorder.

Clin Neurophysiol 2008 Jan 26;119(1):151-62. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

University of Sussex, Department of Psychology, Pevensey Building, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK.

Objective: We investigated electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates of moderate intermittent explosive disorder (mIED), which is characterized by uncontrollable, impulsive attacks that either manifest in aggressive outbursts of temper, or in implosive, auto-aggressive behaviour.

Methods: In two Experiments, EEG data were recorded during rest conditions, and while subjects were presented with auditory and visual stimuli. Additionally, scores of the I7 impulsivity scale (designed to capture acting on impulse) were obtained.

Results: In Experiment 1, individuals with mIED showed a stronger increase in the power of oscillatory activity in the beta band, along with a stronger power decrease in the theta band in response to both visual and auditory stimuli. Based on discriminant function analysis, a model of discriminant functions was derived that clearly separated the mIED group from the control group. In Experiment 2, subjects were categorized into either of two groups (supposedly without mIED, with mIED) based on this model of discriminant functions. Results showed that I7 impulsivity scores clearly differed between groups.

Conclusions: The present data show a relation between oscillatory brain activity and mIED. They indicate that this brain activity is related to the impulsivity facet of impulsive action, and suggest that mIED can be assessed based on the analysis of electrophysiological data.

Significance: To our knowledge, this is the first study on EEG correlates of (m)IED. Results open up new perspectives for future investigations on disorders characterized by substantial impulsivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2007.09.131DOI Listing
January 2008

A cardiac signature of emotionality.

Eur J Neurosci 2007 Dec;26(11):3328-38

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.

Human personality has brain correlates that exert manifold influences on biological processes. This study investigates relations between emotional personality and heart activity. Our data demonstrate that emotional personality is related to a specific cardiac amplitude signature in the resting electrocardiogram (ECG). Two experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging show that this signature correlates with brain activity in the amygdala and the hippocampus during the processing of musical stimuli with emotional valence. Additionally, this cardiac signature correlates with subjective indices of emotionality (as measured by the Revised Toronto Alexithymia Scale), and with both time and frequency domain measures of the heart rate variability. The results demonstrate intricate connections between emotional personality and the heart by showing that ECG amplitude patterns provide considerably more information about an individual's emotionality than previously believed. The finding of a cardiac signature of emotional personality opens new perspectives for the investigation of relations between emotional dysbalance and cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05889.xDOI Listing
December 2007

Untangling syntactic and sensory processing: an ERP study of music perception.

Psychophysiology 2007 May;44(3):476-90

Independent Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Music, Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstrasse 1a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

The present study investigated music-syntactic processing with chord sequences that ended on either regular or irregular chord functions. Sequences were composed such that perceived differences in the cognitive processing between syntactically regular and irregular chords could not be due to the sensory processing of acoustic factors like pitch repetition, pitch commonality (the major component of "sensory dissonance"), or roughness. Three experiments with independent groups of subjects were conducted: a behavioral experiment and two experiments using electroencephalography. Irregular chords elicited an early right anterior negativity (ERAN) in the event-related brain potentials (ERPs) under both task-relevant and task-irrelevant conditions. Behaviorally, participants detected around 75% of the irregular chords, indicating that these chords were only moderately salient. Nevertheless, the irregular chords reliably elicited clear ERP effects. Amateur musicians were slightly more sensitive to musical irregularities than nonmusicians, supporting previous studies demonstrating effects of musical training on music-syntactic processing. The findings indicate that the ERAN is an index of music-syntactic processing and that the ERAN can be elicited even when irregular chords are not detectable based on acoustical factors such as pitch repetition, sensory dissonance, or roughness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2007.00517.xDOI Listing
May 2007

Investigating the relationship of music and language in children: influences of musical training and language impairment.

Ann N Y Acad Sci 2005 Dec;1060:231-42

Max Planck Institute of Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1A, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Language and music are human universals involving perceptually discrete elements organized in hierarchically structured sequences. The set of principles governing the combination of these structural elements into sequences is known as syntax. A violation of expectancies concerning syntactic regularities may be reflected by two ERP components: the ERAN (early right anterior negativity) and the ELAN (early left anterior negativity). The ERAN is evoked by a violation of musical regularities, whereas the ELAN is linked to syntax processing in the language domain. There is evidence from adult data to suggest that both ERAN and ELAN are, at least partly, generated in the same brain regions. Therefore, it seems plausible to expect transfer effects between music and language due to shared processing resources. Moreover, the ERAN is larger in adults with formal musical training (musicians) than in those without, indicating that more specific representations of musical regularities lead to heightened musical expectancies. The aim of this study is to investigate these issues in child development. We conducted two experimental sessions with the same participants and compared children with and without musical training (11 years old) and children with or without language impairment (5 years old). In a music experiment, the reactions to chord sequences ending either with a (regular) tonic or with an (irregular) supertonic were compared. For a language experiment we used syntactically correct and incorrect sentences. Preliminary results show that an ERAN is present in both groups and appears to have a larger amplitude in musically trained children. In addition, there are indications of an enhanced negativity in response to a syntactic violation in the musically trained children. The relationship between the ERP components is, moreover, manifested in the finding that an ERAN is present in linguistically nonimpaired children at the age of 5 years but not in children with language impairment of the same age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1196/annals.1360.016DOI Listing
December 2005