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Concept: Lobe


Atrophy of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) occurs with aging, resulting in impaired episodic memory. Aerobic fitness is positively correlated with total hippocampal volume, a heavily studied memory-critical region within the MTL. However, research on associations between sedentary behavior and MTL subregion integrity is limited. Here we explore associations between thickness of the MTL and its subregions (namely CA1, CA23DG, fusiform gyrus, subiculum, parahippocampal, perirhinal and entorhinal cortex,), physical activity, and sedentary behavior. We assessed 35 non-demented middle-aged and older adults (25 women, 10 men; 45-75 years) using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire for older adults, which quantifies physical activity levels in MET-equivalent units and asks about the average number of hours spent sitting per day. All participants had high resolution MRI scans performed on a Siemens Allegra 3T MRI scanner, which allows for detailed investigation of the MTL. Controlling for age, total MTL thickness correlated inversely with hours of sitting/day (r = -0.37, p = 0.03). In MTL subregion analysis, parahippocampal (r = -0.45, p = 0.007), entorhinal (r = -0.33, p = 0.05) cortical and subiculum (r = -0.36, p = .04) thicknesses correlated inversely with hours of sitting/day. No significant correlations were observed between physical activity levels and MTL thickness. Though preliminary, our results suggest that more sedentary non-demented individuals have less MTL thickness. Future studies should include longitudinal analyses and explore mechanisms, as well as the efficacy of decreasing sedentary behaviors to reverse this association.

Concepts: Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Face perception, Fusiform gyrus, Entorhinal cortex, Lobe


Inflammation impairs cognitive performance and is implicated in the progression of neurodegenerative disorders. Rodent studies demonstrated key roles for inflammatory mediators in many processes critical to memory, including long-term potentiation, synaptic plasticity, and neurogenesis. They also demonstrated functional impairment of medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures by systemic inflammation. However, human data to support this position are limited.

Concepts: Inflammation, Neuroscience, Synaptic plasticity, Memory, Temporal lobe, Hippocampus, Long-term potentiation, Lobe


Sleep deprivation is a major source of morbidity with widespread health effects, including increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and stroke. Moreover, sleep deprivation brings about vehicle accidents and medical errors and is therefore an urgent topic of investigation. During sleep deprivation, homeostatic and circadian processes interact to build up sleep pressure, which results in slow behavioral performance (cognitive lapses) typically attributed to attentional thalamic and frontoparietal circuits, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Recently, through study of electroencephalograms (EEGs) in humans and local field potentials (LFPs) in nonhuman primates and rodents it was found that, during sleep deprivation, regional ‘sleep-like’ slow and theta (slow/theta) waves co-occur with impaired behavioral performance during wakefulness. Here we used intracranial electrodes to record single-neuron activities and LFPs in human neurosurgical patients performing a face/nonface categorization psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) over multiple experimental sessions, including a session after full-night sleep deprivation. We find that, just before cognitive lapses, the selective spiking responses of individual neurons in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) are attenuated, delayed, and lengthened. These ‘neuronal lapses’ are evident on a trial-by-trial basis when comparing the slowest behavioral PVT reaction times to the fastest. Furthermore, during cognitive lapses, LFPs exhibit a relative local increase in slow/theta activity that is correlated with degraded single-neuron responses and with baseline theta activity. Our results show that cognitive lapses involve local state-dependent changes in neuronal activity already present in the MTL.

Concepts: Psychology, Sleep, Sleep deprivation, Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Primate, Face perception, Lobe


Memory skills strongly differ across the general population; however, little is known about the brain characteristics supporting superior memory performance. Here we assess functional brain network organization of 23 of the world’s most successful memory athletes and matched controls with fMRI during both task-free resting state baseline and active memory encoding. We demonstrate that, in a group of naive controls, functional connectivity changes induced by 6 weeks of mnemonic training were correlated with the network organization that distinguishes athletes from controls. During rest, this effect was mainly driven by connections between rather than within the visual, medial temporal lobe and default mode networks, whereas during task it was driven by connectivity within these networks. Similarity with memory athlete connectivity patterns predicted memory improvements up to 4 months after training. In conclusion, mnemonic training drives distributed rather than regional changes, reorganizing the brain’s functional network organization to enable superior memory performance.

Concepts: Cognition, Cerebral cortex, Memory, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Primary auditory cortex, Hippocampus, Lobe


Grid cells in the entorhinal cortex (EC) of rodents [1] and humans [2] fire in a hexagonally distributed spatially periodic manner. In concert with other spatial cells in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) [3-6], they provide a representation of our location within an environment [7, 8] and are specifically thought to allow the represented location to be updated by self-motion [9]. Grid-like signals have been seen throughout the autobiographical memory system [10], suggesting a much more general role in memory [11, 12]. Grid cells may allow us to move our viewpoint in imagination [13], a useful function for goal-directed navigation and planning [12, 14-16], and episodic future thinking more generally [17, 18]. We used fMRI to provide evidence for similar grid-like signals in human entorhinal cortex during both virtual navigation and imagined navigation of the same paths. We show that this signal is present in periods of active navigation and imagination, with a similar orientation in both and with the specifically 6-fold rotational symmetry characteristic of grid cell firing. We therefore provide the first evidence suggesting that grid cells are utilized during movement of viewpoint within imagery, potentially underpinning our more general ability to mentally traverse possible routes in the service of planning and episodic future thinking.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Wernicke's area, Lobe


The objective of this pilot study was to explore the use of a closed-loop, allostatic, acoustic stimulation neurotechnology for individuals with self-reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress, as a potential means to impact symptomatology, temporal lobe high frequency asymmetry, heart rate variability (HRV), and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS).

Concepts: Lung, Medical statistics, Cardiology, Evaluation methods, Temporal lobe, Frequency, Heart rate variability, Lobe


Whether retrieval still depends on the hippocampus as memories age or relies then on cortical areas remains a major controversy. Despite evidence for a functional segregation between CA1, CA3 and parahippocampal areas, their specific role within this frame is unclear. Especially, the contribution of CA3 is questionable as very remote memories might be too degraded to be used for pattern completion. To identify the specific role of these areas, we imaged brain activity in mice during retrieval of recent, early remote and very remote fear memories by detecting the immediate-early gene Arc. Investigating correlates of the memory trace over an extended period allowed us to report that, in contrast to CA1, CA3 is no longer recruited in very remote retrieval. Conversely, we showed that parahippocampal areas are then maximally engaged. These results suggest a shift from a greater contribution of the trisynaptic loop to the temporoammonic pathway for retrieval.

Concepts: Brain, Cerebral cortex, Memory, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Temporal lobe epilepsy, Lobe


The aim is to evaluate how language experience (Chinese, English) shapes processing of pitch contours as reflected in the amplitude of cortical pitch response components. Responses were elicited from three dynamic curvilinear nonspeech stimuli varying in pitch direction and location of peak acceleration: Mandarin lexical Tone 2 (rising) and Tone 4 (falling), and a flipped variant of Tone 2, Tone 2' (nonnative). At temporal sites (T7/T8), Chinese listeners' Na-Pb response amplitudes to Tones 2 and 4 were greater than those of English listeners in the right hemisphere only; a rightward asymmetry for Tones 2 and 4 was restricted to the Chinese group. In common to both Fz-to-linked T7/T8 and T7/T8 electrode sites, the stimulus pattern (Tones 2 and 4 > Tone 2') was found in the Chinese group only. As reflected by Pb-Nb at Fz, Chinese subjects' amplitudes were larger than those of English subjects in response to Tones 2 and 4, and Tones 2 and 4 were larger than Tone 2', whereas for English subjects, Tone 2 was larger than Tone 2' and Tone 4. At frontal electrode sites (F3/F4), regardless of component or hemisphere, Chinese subjects' responses were larger in amplitude than those of English subjects across stimuli. For either group, responses to Tones 2 and 4 were larger than Tone 2'. No hemispheric asymmetry was observed at the frontal electrode sites. These findings demonstrate that cortical pitch response components are differentially modulated by experience-dependent, temporally distinct but functionally overlapping, weighting of sensory and extrasensory effects on pitch processing of lexical tones in the right temporal lobe and, more broadly, are consistent with a distributed hierarchical predictive coding process.

Concepts: Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Primary auditory cortex, Auditory system, Chinese language, Lobe, Mandarin Chinese


Thoughts arise spontaneously in our minds with remarkable frequency, but tracking the brain systems associated with the early inception of a thought has proved challenging. Here we addressed this issue by taking advantage of the heightened introspective ability of experienced mindfulness practitioners to detect the onset of their spontaneously arising thoughts. We observed subtle differences in timing among the many regions typically recruited by spontaneous thought. Only in some of these regions did neural activation peak prior to the spontaneous arising of a thought - most notably in the medial temporal lobe and inferior parietal lobule. In contrast, activation in the medial prefrontal, temporopolar, mid-insular, lateral prefrontal, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices peaked together with or immediately following the arising of spontaneous thought. We propose that brain regions that show antecedent recruitment may be preferentially involved in the initial inception of spontaneous thoughts, while those that show later recruitment may be preferentially involved in the subsequent elaboration and metacognitive processing of spontaneous thoughts. Our findings highlight the temporal dynamics of neural recruitment surrounding the emergence of spontaneous thoughts and may help account for some of spontaneous thought’s peculiar qualities, including its wild diversity of content and its links to memory and attention.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Cognition, Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Lobe


We investigated sex differences in verbal memory across different levels of neural dysfunction, measured by temporal lobe glucose metabolic rates (TLGluMR).

Concepts: Psychology, Male, Metabolism, Memory, Temporal lobe, Hippocampus, Sex, Lobe