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Concept: Functional magnetic resonance imaging


In the past years, a few methods have been developed to translate human EEG to music. In 2009, PloS One 4 e5915, we developed a method to generate scale-free brainwave music where the amplitude of EEG was translated to music pitch according to the power law followed by both of them, the period of an EEG waveform is translated directly to the duration of a note, and the logarithm of the average power change of EEG is translated to music intensity according to the Fechner’s law. In this work, we proposed to adopt simultaneously-recorded fMRI signal to control the intensity of the EEG music, thus an EEG-fMRI music is generated by combining two different and simultaneous brain signals. And most importantly, this approach further realized power law for music intensity as fMRI signal follows it. Thus the EEG-fMRI music makes a step ahead in reflecting the physiological process of the scale-free brain.

Concepts: Cognitive science, Electroencephalography, Medical tests, Sound, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Pitch, Weber–Fechner law, Scientific pitch notation


Following the demise of the polygraph, supporters of assisted scientific lie detection tools have enthusiastically appropriated neuroimaging technologies “as the savior of scientifically verifiable lie detection in the courtroom” (Gerard, 2008: 5). These proponents believe the future impact of neuroscience “will be inevitable, dramatic, and will fundamentally alter the way the law does business” (Erickson, 2010: 29); however, such enthusiasm may prove premature. For in nearly every article published by independent researchers in peer reviewed journals, the respective authors acknowledge that fMRI research, processes, and technology are insufficiently developed and understood for gatekeepers to even consider introducing these neuroimaging measures into criminal courts as they stand today for the purpose of determining the veracity of statements made. Regardless of how favorable their analyses of fMRI or its future potential, they all acknowledge the presence of issues yet to be resolved. Even assuming a future where these issues are resolved and an appropriate fMRI lie-detection process is developed, its integration into criminal trials is not assured for the very success of such a future system may necessitate its exclusion from courtrooms on the basis of existing legal and ethical prohibitions. In this piece, aimed for a multidisciplinary readership, we seek to highlight and bring together the multitude of hurdles which would need to be successfully overcome before fMRI can (if ever) be a viable applied lie detection system. We argue that the current status of fMRI studies on lie detection meets neither basic legal nor scientific standards. We identify four general classes of hurdles (scientific, legal and ethical, operational, and social) and provide an overview on the stages and operations involved in fMRI studies, as well as the difficulties of translating these laboratory protocols into a practical criminal justice environment. It is our overall conclusion that fMRI is unlikely to constitute a viable lie detector for criminal courts.

Concepts: Scientific method, Future, Neuroscience, Magnetic resonance imaging, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Lie, Lie detection, Polygraph


Internet addiction has become increasingly recognized as a mental disorder, though its neurobiological basis is unknown. This study used functional neuroimaging to investigate whole-brain functional connectivity in adolescents diagnosed with internet addiction. Based on neurobiological changes seen in other addiction related disorders, it was predicted that connectivity disruptions in adolescents with internet addiction would be most prominent in cortico-striatal circuitry.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroimaging, Neuroscience, Addiction, Mental disorder, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Functional neuroimaging, Internet addiction disorder


Positron emission tomography (PET) with (15)O tracers provides essential information in patients with cerebral vascular disorders, such as cerebral blood flow (CBF), oxygen extraction fraction (OEF), and metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO(2)). However, most of techniques require an additional C(15)O scan for compensating cerebral blood volume (CBV). We aimed to establish a technique to calculate all functional images only from a single dynamic PET scan, without losing accuracy or statistical certainties. The technique was an extension of previous dual-tracer autoradiography (DARG) approach, but based on the basis function method (DBFM), thus estimating all functional parametric images from a single session of dynamic scan acquired during the sequential administration of H(2)(15)O and (15)O(2). Validity was tested on six monkeys by comparing global OEF by PET with those by arteriovenous blood sampling, and tested feasibility on young healthy subjects. The mean DBFM-derived global OEF was 0.57±0.06 in monkeys, in an agreement with that by the arteriovenous method (0.54±0.06). Image quality was similar and no significant differences were seen from DARG; 3.57%±6.44% and 3.84%±3.42% for CBF, and -2.79%±11.2% and -6.68%±10.5% for CMRO(2). A simulation study demonstrated similar error propagation between DBFM and DARG. The DBFM method enables accurate assessment of CBF and CMRO(2) without additional CBV scan within significantly shortened examination period, in clinical settings.Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism advance online publication, 12 December 2012; doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2012.188.

Concepts: Metabolism, Medical imaging, Positron emission tomography, Positron, Positron emission, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Carbon-11, Fluorine-18


Humans naturally have a sense of humor. Experiencing humor not only encourages social interactions, but also produces positive physiological effects on the human body, such as lowering blood pressure. Recent neuro-imaging studies have shown evidence for distinct mental state changes at work in people experiencing humor. However, the temporal characteristics of these changes remain elusive. In this paper, we objectively measured humor-related mental states from single-trial functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data obtained while subjects viewed comedy TV programs. Measured fMRI data were labeled on the basis of the lag before or after the viewer’s perception of humor (humor onset) determined by the viewer-reported humor experiences during the fMRI scans. We trained multiple binary classifiers, or decoders, to distinguish between fMRI data obtained at each lag from ones obtained during a neutral state in which subjects were not experiencing humor. As a result, in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the right temporal area, the decoders showed significant classification accuracies even at two seconds ahead of the humor onsets. Furthermore, given a time series of fMRI data obtained during movie viewing, we found that the decoders with significant performance were also able to predict the upcoming humor events on a volume-by-volume basis. Taking into account the hemodynamic delay, our results suggest that the upcoming humor events are encoded in specific brain areas up to about five seconds before the awareness of experiencing humor. Our results provide evidence that there exists a mental state lasting for a few seconds before actual humor perception, as if a viewer is expecting the future humorous events.

Concepts: Brain, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebrum, Snake scales, Attention versus memory in prefrontal cortex, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Comedy, Humour


The present study investigates brain-to-brain coupling, defined as inter-subject correlations in the hemodynamic response, during natural verbal communication. We used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to record brain activity of 3 speakers telling stories and 15 listeners comprehending audio recordings of these stories. Listeners' brain activity was significantly correlated with speakers' with a delay. This between-brain correlation disappeared when verbal communication failed. We further compared the fNIRS and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) recordings of listeners comprehending the same story and found a significant relationship between the fNIRS oxygenated-hemoglobin concentration changes and the fMRI BOLD in brain areas associated with speech comprehension. This correlation between fNIRS and fMRI was only present when data from the same story were compared between the two modalities and vanished when data from different stories were compared; this cross-modality consistency further highlights the reliability of the spatiotemporal brain activation pattern as a measure of story comprehension. Our findings suggest that fNIRS can be used for investigating brain-to-brain coupling during verbal communication in natural settings.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Brain, Magnetic resonance imaging, Correlation and dependence, Infrared spectroscopy, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Infrared, Near infrared spectroscopy


Functional imaging using positron emission tomography and later functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed a particular brainstem area that is believed to be specifically activated in migraine during, but not outside of the attack, and consequently has been coined the ‘migraine generator’. However, the pathophysiological concept behind this term is not undisputed and typical migraine premonitory symptoms such as fatigue and yawning, but also a typical association of attacks to circadian and menstrual cycles, all make the hypothalamus a possible regulating region of migraine attacks. Neuroimaging studies investigating native human migraine attacks however are scarce and for methodological but also clinical reasons there are currently no studies investigating the last 24 h before headache onset. Here we report a migraine patient who had magnetic resonance imaging every day for 30 days, always in the morning, to cover, using functional imaging, a whole month and three complete, untreated migraine attacks. We found that hypothalamic activity as a response to trigeminal nociceptive stimulation is altered during the 24 h prior to pain onset, i.e. increases towards the next migraine attack. More importantly, the hypothalamus shows altered functional coupling with the spinal trigeminal nuclei and the region of the migraine generator, i.e. the dorsal rostral pons during the preictal day and the pain phase of native human migraine attacks. These data suggest that although the brainstem is highly linked to the migraine biology, the real driver of attacks might be the functional changes in hypothalamo-brainstem connectivity.

Concepts: Brain, Medical imaging, Positron emission tomography, Magnetic resonance imaging, Radiology, Menstrual cycle, Attack, Functional magnetic resonance imaging


There are concerns about mental wellbeing in later life in older people as the global population becomes older and more urbanised. Mobility in the built environment has a role to play in improving quality of life and wellbeing, as it facilitates independence and social interaction. Recent studies using neuroimaging methods in environmental psychology research have shown that different types of urban environments may be associated with distinctive patterns of brain activity, suggesting that we interact differently with varying environments. This paper reports on research that explores older people’s responses to urban places and their mobility in and around the built environment. The project aim was to understand how older people experience different urban environments using a mixed methods approach including electroencephalography (EEG), self-reported measures, and interview results. We found that older participants experience changing levels of “excitement”, “engagement” and “frustration” (as interpreted by proprietary EEG software) whilst walking between a busy built urban environment and an urban green space environment. These changes were further reflected in the qualitative themes that emerged from transcribed interviews undertaken one week post-walk. There has been no research to date that has directly assessed neural responses to an urban environment combined with qualitative interview analysis. A synergy of methods offers a deeper understanding of the changing moods of older people across time whilst walking in city settings.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Environment, Natural environment, Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Environmental psychology


Combining low-cost wireless EEG sensors with smartphones offers novel opportunities for mobile brain imaging in an everyday context. Here we present the technical details and validation of a framework for building multi-platform, portable EEG applications with real-time 3D source reconstruction. The system - Smartphone Brain Scanner - combines an off-the-shelf neuroheadset or EEG cap with a smartphone or tablet, and as such represents the first fully portable system for real-time 3D EEG imaging. We discuss the benefits and challenges, including technical limitations as well as details of real-time reconstruction of 3D images of brain activity. We present examples of brain activity captured in a simple experiment involving imagined finger tapping, which shows that the acquired signal in a relevant brain region is similar to that obtained with standard EEG lab equipment. Although the quality of the signal in a mobile solution using an off-the-shelf consumer neuroheadset is lower than the signal obtained using high-density standard EEG equipment, we propose mobile application development may offset the disadvantages and provide completely new opportunities for neuroimaging in natural settings.

Concepts: Brain, Neuroimaging, Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Personal digital assistant, Smartphone, Mobile computing


Connections between the thalamus and cortex develop rapidly before birth, and aberrant cerebral maturation during this period may underlie a number of neurodevelopmental disorders. To define functional thalamocortical connectivity at the normal time of birth, we used functional MRI (fMRI) to measure blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals in 66 infants, 47 of whom were at high risk of neurocognitive impairment because of birth before 33 wk of gestation and 19 of whom were term infants. We segmented the thalamus based on correlation with functionally defined cortical components using independent component analysis (ICA) and seed-based correlations. After parcellating the cortex using ICA and segmenting the thalamus based on dominant connections with cortical parcellations, we observed a near-facsimile of the adult functional parcellation. Additional analysis revealed that BOLD signal in heteromodal association cortex typically had more widespread and overlapping thalamic representations than primary sensory cortex. Notably, more extreme prematurity was associated with increased functional connectivity between thalamus and lateral primary sensory cortex but reduced connectivity between thalamus and cortex in the prefrontal, insular and anterior cingulate regions. This work suggests that, in early infancy, functional integration through thalamocortical connections depends on significant functional overlap in the topographic organization of the thalamus and that the experience of premature extrauterine life modulates network development, altering the maturation of networks thought to support salience, executive, integrative, and cognitive functions.

Concepts: Childbirth, Infant, Brain, Cognition, Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Thalamus, Functional magnetic resonance imaging