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Excitatory TMS Boosts Memory Representations

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  • Stars Behavioral Health Group
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Abstract

Brain stimulation technologies have seen increasing application in basic science investigations, specifically towards the goal of improving memory functioning. However, proposals concerning the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive enhancement often rely on simplified notions of excitation and, most applications examining the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on functional neuroimaging measures have been limited to univariate analyses of brain activity. We present here analyses using representational similarity analysis (RSA) and encoding-retrieval similarity (ERS) analysis in order to quantify the effect of TMS on memory representations. To test whether an increase in local excitability in PFC can have measurable influences on upstream representations in earlier temporal memory regions, we compared 1Hz and 5Hz stimulation to the left dorsolateral PFC. We found that 10 minutes of 5Hz rTMS, relative to 1Hz, had multiple effects on neural representations: 1) greater RSA during both encoding and retrieval, 2) greater ERS across all items, and, critically, 3) increasing ERS in MTL with increasing univariate activity in DLPFC, and greater functional connectivity for hits than misses between these regions. These results provide the first evidence of rTMS enhancing semantic representations and strengthen the idea that rTMS may affect the reinstatement of previously experienced events in upstream regions.

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People often forget information because they fail to effectively encode it. Here, we test the hypothesis that targeted electrical stimulation can modulate neural encoding states and subsequent memory outcomes. Using recordings from neurosurgical epilepsy patients with intracranially implanted electrodes, we trained multivariate classifiers to discriminate spectral activity during learning that predicted remembering from forgetting, then decoded neural activity in later sessions in which we applied stimulation during learning. Stimulation increased encoding-state estimates and recall if delivered when the classifier indicated low encoding efficiency but had the reverse effect if stimulation was delivered when the classifier indicated high encoding efficiency. Higher encoding-state estimates from stimulation were associated with greater evidence of neural activity linked to contextual memory encoding. In identifying the conditions under which stimulation modulates memory, the data suggest strategies for therapeutically treating memory dysfunction.
Article
Noninvasive stimulation can alter the function of brain networks, although the duration of neuroplastic changes are uncertain and likely vary for different networks and stimulation parameters. We have previously shown that multiple-day repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation can influence targeted hippocampal-cortical networks, producing increased functional MRI connectivity of these networks and concomitant improvements in memory that outlast stimulation by ~24 hours. Here we present new analyses showing that multiple-day targeted stimulation of hippocampal-cortical networks produces even longer-lasting enhancement. The ability to learn novel, arbitrary face-word pairings improved over five consecutive daily stimulation sessions, and this improvement remained robust at follow-up testing performed an average of 15 days later. Further, stimulation increased functional MRI connectivity of the targeted portion of the hippocampus with distributed regions of the posterior hippocampal-cortical network, and these changes in connectivity remained robust at follow-up testing. Neuroplastic changes of hippocampal-cortical networks caused by multiple-day noninvasive stimulation therefore persist for extended periods. These findings have implications for the design of multiple-day stimulation experiments and for the development of stimulation-based interventions for memory disorders.
Article
Neurobiological memory models assume memory traces are stored in neocortex, with pointers in the hippocampus, and are then reactivated during retrieval yielding the experience of remembering. Whereas most prior neuroimaging studies on reactivation have focused on the reactivation of sets or categories of items, the current study sought to identify cortical patterns pertaining to memory for individual scenes. During encoding, participants viewed pictures of scenes paired with matching labels (e.g., "barn," "tunnel"), and during retrieval, they recalled the scenes in response to the labels and rated the quality of their visual memories. Using representational similarity analyses, we interrogated the similarity between activation patterns during encoding and retrieval both at the item level (individual scenes) and the set level (all scenes). The study yielded four main findings. First, in occipitotemporal cortex, memory success increased with encoding-retrieval similarity (ERS) at the item level but not at the set level, indicating the reactivation of individual scenes. Second, in ventrolateral pFC, memory increased with ERS for both item and set levels, indicating the recapitulation of memory processes that benefit encoding and retrieval of all scenes. Third, in retrosplenial/posterior cingulate cortex, ERS was sensitive to individual scene information irrespective of memory success, suggesting automatic activation of scene contexts. Finally, consistent with neurobiological models, hippocampal activity during encoding predicted the subsequent reactivation of individual items. These findings show the promise of studying memory with greater specificity by isolating individual mnemonic representations and determining their relationship to factors like the detail with which past events are remembered.
Article
Background Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can affect episodic memory, one of the main cognitive hallmarks of aging, but the mechanisms of action remain unclear. Objectives: To evaluate the behavioral and functional impact of excitatory TMS in a group of healthy elders. Methods We applied a paradigm of repetitive TMS -intermittent theta-burst stimulation- over left inferior frontal gyrus in healthy elders (n=24) and evaluated its impact on the performance of an episodic memory task with two levels of processing and the associated brain activity as captured by a pre and post fMRI scans. Results In the post-TMS fMRI we found TMS-related activity increases in left prefrontal and cerebellum-occipital areas specifically during deep encoding but not during shallow encoding or at rest. Furthermore, we found a task-dependent change in connectivity during the encoding task between cerebellum-occipital areas and the TMS-targeted left inferior frontal region. This connectivity change correlated with the TMS effects over brain networks. Conclusions The results suggest that the aged brain responds to brain stimulation in a state-dependent manner as engaged by different tasks components and that TMS effect is related to inter-individual connectivity changes measures. These findings reveal fundamental insights into brain network dynamics in aging and the capacity to probe them with combined behavioral and stimulation approaches.
Article
Clinically normal hand movement with altered cerebral activation patterns in cervical dystonia (CD) may imply cerebral adaptation. Since impaired sensorimotor integration appears to play a role in dystonia, left superior parietal cortex modulation with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was employed to further challenge adaptation mechanisms reflected by changes in cerebral activation. Seven CD patients and ten healthy controls were scanned on a 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner with 1 Hz inhibitory interleaved TMS. They executed and imagined right wrist flexion/extension movements. Each task was preceded by a 10-s period with or without TMS. The activations of both tasks after TMS in controls showed a similar pattern as found in CD without TMS, i.e. activation increases in bilateral prefrontal and posterior parietal regions during both tasks and decreases in right anterior parietal cortex during imagery (P<0.001). the activations of both tasks after TMS in CD were weaker but with a similar trend in activation changes. Only in the right angular gyrus, TMS significantly failed to induce an activation increase in CD as was seen in the controls (P<0.001). The similarity between TMS effects on the distribution of cerebral activations in controls and the pattern seen in CD may support the concept that CD make use of compensatory circuitry enabling clinically normal hand movement. The fact that a similar but weaker TMS effect occurred in CD could suggest that the capacity of compensation is reduced. Particularly for the right angular gyrus, this reduction was statistically significant.
Article
Use of multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) to predict the cognitive state of a subject during task performance has become a popular focus of fMRI studies. The input to these analyses consists of activation patterns corresponding to different tasks or stimulus types. These activation patterns are fairly straightforward to calculate for blocked trials or slow event-related designs, but for rapid event-related designs the evoked BOLD signal for adjacent trials will overlap in time, complicating the identification of signal unique to specific trials. Rapid event-related designs are often preferred because they allow for more stimuli to be presented and subjects tend to be more focused on the task, and thus it would be beneficial to be able to use these types of designs in MVPA analyses. The present work compares 8 different models for estimating trial-by-trial activation patterns for a range of rapid event-related designs varying by interstimulus interval and signal-to-noise ratio. The most effective approach obtains each trial's estimate through a general linear model including a regressor for that trial as well as another regressor for all other trials. Through the analysis of both simulated and real data we have found that this model shows some improvement over the standard approaches for obtaining activation patterns. The resulting trial-by-trial estimates are more representative of the true activation magnitudes, leading to a boost in classification accuracy in fast event-related designs with higher signal-to-noise. This provides the potential for fMRI studies that allow simultaneous optimization of both univariate and MVPA approaches.
Article
There is growing evidence that the brain regions involved in encoding an episode are partially reactivated when that episode is later remembered. That is, the process of remembering an episode involves literally returning to the brain state that was present during that episode. This article reviews studies of episodic and associative memory that provide support for the assertion that encoding regions are reactivated during subsequent retrieval. In the first section, studies are reviewed in which neutral stimuli were associated with different modalities of sensory stimuli or different valences of emotional stimuli. When the neutral stimuli were later used as retrieval cues, relevant sensory and emotion processing regions were reactivated. In the second section, studies are reviewed in which participants used different strategies for encoding stimuli. When the stimuli were later retrieved, regions associated with the different encoding strategies were reactivated. Together, these studies demonstrate not only that the encoding experience determines which regions are activated during subsequent retrieval but also that the same regions are activated during encoding and retrieval. In the final section, relevant questions are posed and discussed regarding the reactivation of encoding regions during retrieval.
Article
Dystonia is associated with impaired somatosensory ability. The electrophysiological method of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can be used for noninvasive stimulation of the human cortex and can alter cortical excitability and associated behavior. Among others, rTMS can alter/improve somatosensory discrimation abilities, as shown in healthy controls. We applied 5Hz-rTMS over the left primary somatosensory cortex (S1) in 5 patients with right-sided writer's dystonia and 5 controls. We studied rTMS effects on tactile discrimination accuracy and concomitant rTMS-induced changes in hemodynamic activity measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Before rTMS, patients performed worse on the discrimination task than controls even though fMRI showed greater task-related activation bilaterally in the basal ganglia (BG). In controls, rTMS led to improved discrimination; fMRI revealed this was associated with increased activity of the stimulated S1, bilateral premotor cortex and BG. In dystonia patients, rTMS had no effect on discrimination; fMRI showed similar cortical effects to controls except for no effects in BG. Improved discrimination after rTMS in controls is linked to enhanced activation of S1 and BG. Failure of rTMS to increase BG activation in dystonia may be associated with the lack of effect on sensory discrimination in this group and may reflect impaired processing in BG-S1 connections. Alternatively, the increased BG activation seen in the baseline state without rTMS may reflect a compensatory strategy that saturates a BG contribution to this task.
Article
Prior studies, mostly using intentional learning, suggest that power increases in theta and gamma oscillations and power decreases in alpha and beta oscillations are positively related to later remembering. Using incidental learning, this study investigated whether these brain oscillatory subsequent memory effects can be differentiated by encoding task. One group of subjects studied material performing a semantic (deep) encoding task, whereas the other group studied the same material performing a nonsemantic (shallow) encoding task. Successful encoding in the semantic task was related to power decreases in the alpha (8–12 Hz) and beta (12–20 Hz) frequency band, and a power increase in the gamma band (55–70 Hz). In the shallow task, successful encoding was related to a power decrease in the alpha band and a power increase in the theta frequency band (4–7 Hz). A direct comparison of results between the 2 encoding tasks revealed that semantic subsequent memory effects were specifically reflected by power decreases in the beta (0.5–1.5 s) and the alpha frequency band (0.5–1.0 s), whereas nonsemantic subsequent memory effects were specifically reflected by a power increase in the theta frequency band (0.5–1.0 s).
Article
Conceptual knowledge provides the basis on which we bring meaning to our world. Studies of semantic dementia patients and some functional neuroimaging studies indicate that the anterior temporal lobes, bilaterally, are the core neural substrate for the formation of semantic representations. This hypothesis remains controversial, however, as traditional neurological models of comprehension do not posit a role for these regions. To adjudicate on this debate, we conducted 2 novel experiments that used off-line, low-frequency, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to disrupt neural processing temporarily in the left or right temporal poles (TPs). The time required to make semantic decisions was slowed considerably, yet specifically, by this procedure. The results confirm that both TPs form a critical substrate within the neural network that supports conceptual knowledge.
Article
The Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) is a short structured diagnostic interview, developed jointly by psychiatrists and clinicians in the United States and Europe, for DSM-IV and ICD-10 psychiatric disorders. With an administration time of approximately 15 minutes, it was designed to meet the need for a short but accurate structured psychiatric interview for multicenter clinical trials and epidemiology studies and to be used as a first step in outcome tracking in nonresearch clinical settings. The authors describe the development of the M.I.N.I. and its family of interviews: the M.I.N.I.-Screen, the M.I.N.I.-Plus, and the M.I.N.I.-Kid. They report on validation of the M.I.N.I. in relation to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R, Patient Version, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, and expert professional opinion, and they comment on potential applications for this interview.
Article
Episodic memories consist of semantic information coupled with a rich array of contextual detail. Here, we investigate the neural processes by which information about the sensory context of a learning event is "bound" to the semantic representation of the to-be-encoded item. We present evidence that item-context binding during encoding is mediated by frontoposterior electroencephalographic (EEG) phase locking within and between hemispheres in the theta (4-8 Hz) band. During a task in which subjects encoded words in different font colors, later memory for the word was associated with sustained frontal theta activity and frontoposterior theta-band coherence, primarily within the left hemisphere. When the word-color association was later successfully retrieved, however, neurons synchronized their theta-band responses bilaterally in a more sustained fashion, particularly during the latter part of the stimulus epoch (>800 ms). Our results confirm the importance of functional coupling between frontal and posterior regions for successful encoding. One interpretation of these data is hemispheric contributions to item and context encoding may be asymmetric, with left hemisphere coherence facilitating semantic processing of an item and right hemisphere coherence facilitating processing of sensory context. Theta-band coherence may be an important mechanism by which brain networks exchange information during learning.
Article
Five key topics have been reverberating in hippocampal-entorhinal cortex (EC) research over the past five decades: episodic and semantic memory, path integration ("dead reckoning") and landmark ("map") navigation, and theta oscillation. We suggest that the systematic relations between single cell discharge and the activity of neuronal ensembles reflected in local field theta oscillations provide a useful insight into the relationship among these terms. In rats trained to run in direction-guided (1-dimensional) tasks, hippocampal cell assemblies discharge sequentially, with different assemblies active on opposite runs, i.e., place cells are unidirectional. Such tasks do not require map representation and are formally identical with learning sequentially occurring items in an episode. Hebbian plasticity, acting within the temporal window of the theta cycle, converts the travel distances into synaptic strengths between the sequentially activated and unidirectionally connected assemblies. In contrast, place representations by hippocampal neurons in 2-dimensional environments are typically omnidirectional, characteristic of a map. Generation of a map requires exploration, essentially a dead reckoning behavior. We suggest that omnidirectional navigation through the same places (junctions) during exploration gives rise to omnidirectional place cells and, consequently, maps free of temporal context. Analogously, multiple crossings of common junction(s) of episodes convert the common junction(s) into context-free or semantic memory. Theta oscillation can hence be conceived as the navigation rhythm through both physical and mnemonic space, facilitating the formation of maps and episodic/semantic memories.
Article
Although improvements in performance due to TMS have been demonstrated with some cognitive tasks, performance improvement has not previously been demonstrated with working memory tasks. In the present study, a delayed match-to-sample task was used in which repetitive TMS (rTMS) at 1, 5, or 20 Hz was applied to either left dorsolateral prefrontal or midline parietal cortex during the retention (delay) phase of the task. Only 5 Hz stimulation to the parietal site resulted in a significant decrease in reaction time (RT) without a corresponding decrease in accuracy. This finding was replicated in a second experiment, in which 5 Hz rTMS at the parietal site was applied during the retention phase or during presentation of the recognition probe. Significant speeding of RT occurred in the retention phase but not the probe phase. This finding suggests that TMS may improve working memory performance, in a manner that is specific to the timing of stimulation relative to performance of the task, and to stimulation frequency.
Article
Cognitive control mechanisms permit memory to be accessed strategically, and so aid in bringing knowledge to mind that is relevant to current goals and actions. In this review, we consider the contribution of left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) to the cognitive control of memory. Reviewed evidence supports a two-process model of mnemonic control, supported by a double dissociation among rostral regions of left VLPFC. Specifically, anterior VLPFC (approximately BA 47; inferior frontal gyrus pars orbitalis) supports controlled access to stored conceptual representations, whereas mid-VLPFC (approximately BA 45; inferior frontal gyrus pars triangularis) supports a domain-general selection process that operates post-retrieval to resolve competition among active representations. We discuss the contribution of these control mechanisms across a range of mnemonic domains, including semantic retrieval, recollection of contextual details about past events, resolution of proactive interference in working memory, and task switching. Finally, we consider open directions for future research into left VLPFC function and the cognitive control of memory.
Theta oscillations in the hippocampus
  • G Buzsaki
Buzsaki G (2002) Theta oscillations in the hippocampus. Neuron 33:325-340.