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  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research concerning the impact of psychological stress on visual selective attention has produced mixed results. The current paper describes two experiments which utilise a novel auditory oddball paradigm to test the impact of psychological stress on auditory selective attention. Participants had to report the location of emotionally-neutral auditory stimuli, while ignoring task-irrelevant changes in their content. The results of the first experiment, in which speech stimuli were presented, suggested that stress improves the ability to selectively attend to left, but not right ear stimuli. When this experiment was repeated using tonal stimuli the same result was evident, but only for female participants. Females were also found to experience greater levels of distraction in general across the two experiments. These findings support the goal-shielding theory which suggests that stress improves selective attention by reducing the attentional resources available to process task-irrelevant information. The study also demonstrates, for the first time, that this goal-shielding effect extends to auditory perception.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder involving the progressive degeneration of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in ALS disease progression and has been observed in several ALS cellular and animal models. Here, we show that fibroblasts isolated from ALS cases with a Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) I113T mutation recapitulate these mitochondrial defects. Using a novel technique, which measures mitochondrial respiration and glycolytic flux simultaneously in living cells, we have shown that SOD1 mutation causes a reduction in mitochondrial respiration and an increase in glycolytic flux. This causes a reduction in adenosine triphosphate produced by oxidative phosphorylation and an increase in adenosine triphosphate produced by glycolysis. Switching the energy source from glucose to galactose caused uncoupling of mitochondria with increased proton leak in SOD1(I113T) fibroblasts. Assessment of the contribution of fatty acid oxidation to total respiration, suggested that fatty acid oxidation is reduced in SOD1 ALS fibroblasts, an effect which can be mimicked by starving the control cells of glucose. These results highlight the importance of understanding the interplay between the major metabolic pathways, which has the potential to lead to strategies to correct the metabolic dysregulation observed in ALS cases.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Neurobiology of aging
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective Loss of function mutations in PINK1 typically lead to early onset Parkinson disease (PD). Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are emerging as a powerful new vertebrate model to study neurodegenerative diseases. We used a pink1 mutant (pink(-/-)) zebrafish line with a premature stop mutation (Y431*) in the PINK1 kinase domain to identify molecular mechanisms leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and loss of dopaminergic neurons in PINK1 deficiency. Methods The effect of PINK1 deficiency on the number of dopaminergic neurons, mitochondrial function, and morphology was assessed in both zebrafish embryos and adults. Genome-wide gene expression studies were undertaken to identify novel pathogenic mechanisms. Functional experiments were carried out to further investigate the effect of PINK1 deficiency on early neurodevelopmental mechanisms and microglial activation. ResultsPINK1 deficiency results in loss of dopaminergic neurons as well as early impairment of mitochondrial function and morphology in Danio rerio. Expression of TigarB, the zebrafish orthologue of the human, TP53-induced glycolysis and apoptosis regulator TIGAR, was markedly increased in pink(-/-) larvae. Antisense-mediated inactivation of TigarB gave rise to complete normalization of mitochondrial function, with resulting rescue of dopaminergic neurons in pink(-/-) larvae. There was also marked microglial activation in pink(-/-) larvae, but depletion of microglia failed to rescue the dopaminergic neuron loss, arguing against microglial activation being a key factor in the pathogenesis. InterpretationPink1(-/-) zebrafish are the first vertebrate model of PINK1 deficiency with loss of dopaminergic neurons. Our study also identifies TIGAR as a promising novel target for disease-modifying therapy in PINK1-related PD. Ann Neurol 2013;74:837-847
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Annals of Neurology
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