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Concept: Fusiform gyrus


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


The five-factor model (FFM) is a widely used taxonomy of human personality; yet its neuro anatomical basis remains unclear. This is partly because past associations between gray-matter volume and FFM were driven by different surface-based morphometry (SBM) indices (i.e. cortical thickness, surface area, cortical folding or any combination of them). To overcome this limitation, we used Free-Surfer to study how variability in SBM measures was related to the FFM in n = 507 participants from the Human Connectome Project.Neuroticism was associated with thicker cortex and smaller area and folding in prefrontal-temporal regions. Extraversion was linked to thicker pre-cuneus and smaller superior temporal cortex area. Openness was linked to thinner cortex and greater area and folding in prefrontal-parietal regions. Agreeableness was correlated to thinner prefrontal cortex and smaller fusiform gyrus area. Conscientiousness was associated with thicker cortex and smaller area and folding in prefrontal regions. These findings demonstrate that anatomical variability in prefrontal cortices is linked to individual differences in the socio-cognitive dispositions described by the FFM. Cortical thickness and surface area/folding were inversely related each others as a function of different FFM traits (neuroticism, extraversion and consciousness vs openness), which may reflect brain maturational effects that predispose or protect against psychiatric disorders.

Concepts: Brain, Personality psychology, Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Fusiform gyrus, Prefrontal cortex, Big Five personality traits


Despite decades of research, the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD) is still not well understood. Structural brain differences have been associated with BD, but results from neuroimaging studies have been inconsistent. To address this, we performed the largest study to date of cortical gray matter thickness and surface area measures from brain magnetic resonance imaging scans of 6503 individuals including 1837 unrelated adults with BD and 2582 unrelated healthy controls for group differences while also examining the effects of commonly prescribed medications, age of illness onset, history of psychosis, mood state, age and sex differences on cortical regions. In BD, cortical gray matter was thinner in frontal, temporal and parietal regions of both brain hemispheres. BD had the strongest effects on left pars opercularis (Cohen’s d=-0.293; P=1.71 × 10(-21)), left fusiform gyrus (d=-0.288; P=8.25 × 10(-21)) and left rostral middle frontal cortex (d=-0.276; P=2.99 × 10(-19)). Longer duration of illness (after accounting for age at the time of scanning) was associated with reduced cortical thickness in frontal, medial parietal and occipital regions. We found that several commonly prescribed medications, including lithium, antiepileptic and antipsychotic treatment showed significant associations with cortical thickness and surface area, even after accounting for patients who received multiple medications. We found evidence of reduced cortical surface area associated with a history of psychosis but no associations with mood state at the time of scanning. Our analysis revealed previously undetected associations and provides an extensive analysis of potential confounding variables in neuroimaging studies of BD.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 2 May 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.73.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Snake scales, Grey matter, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Fusiform gyrus


The objective of this study was to examine the functional connectivity of brain regions active during cued and uncued recognition memory to test the idea that distinct networks would underlie these memory processes, as predicted by the attention-to-memory (AtoM) hypothesis. The AtoM hypothesis suggests that dorsal parietal cortex (DPC) allocates effortful top-down attention to memory retrieval during cued retrieval, whereas ventral parietal cortex (VPC) mediates spontaneous bottom-up capture of attention by memory during uncued retrieval. To identify networks associated with these two processes, we conducted a functional connectivity analysis of a left DPC and a left VPC region, both identified by a previous analysis of task-related regional activations. We hypothesized that the two parietal regions would be functionally connected with distinct neural networks, reflecting their engagement in the differential mnemonic processes. We found two spatially dissociated networks that overlapped only in the precuneus. During cued trials, DPC was functionally connected with dorsal attention areas, including the superior parietal lobules, right precuneus, and premotor cortex, as well as relevant memory areas, such as the left hippocampus and the middle frontal gyri. During uncued trials, VPC was functionally connected with ventral attention areas, including the supramarginal gyrus, cuneus, and right fusiform gyrus, as well as the parahippocampal gyrus. In addition, activity in the DPC network was associated with faster response times for cued retrieval. This is the first study to show a dissociation of the functional connectivity of posterior parietal regions during episodic memory retrieval, characterized by a top-down AtoM network involving DPC and a bottom-up AtoM network involving VPC.

Concepts: Brain, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Frontal lobe, Fusiform gyrus, Episodic memory, Postcentral gyrus, Brodmann area 40


This study examined whether the grouping of people into meaningful social scenes (e.g., two people having a chat) impacts the basic perceptual analysis of each partaking individual. To explore this issue, we measured neural activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants sex-categorized congruent as well as incongruent person dyads (i.e., two people interacting in a plausible or implausible manner). Incongruent person dyads elicited enhanced neural processing in several high-level visual areas dedicated to face and body encoding and in the posterior middle temporal gyrus compared to congruent person dyads. Incongruent and congruent person scenes were also successfully differentiated by a linear multivariate pattern classifier in the right fusiform body area and the left extrastriate body area. Finally, increases in the person scenes' meaningfulness as judged by independent observers was accompanied by enhanced activity in the bilateral posterior insula. These findings demonstrate that the processing of person scenes goes beyond a mere stimulus-bound encoding of their partaking agents, suggesting that changes in relations between agents affect their representation in category-selective regions of the visual cortex and beyond.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebrum, Sense, Fusiform gyrus, Helium


The current study aimed to explore the functional magnetic resonance (fMR)-adaption effect by presenting intact and scrambled headless bodies and faces. This fMR-adaption paradigm allows investigating processing specificity in distinct brain areas by comparing the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal related to the presentation of same or different pairs of bodies. There is clear evidence that we prefer whole bodies compared to the sum of their parts. This effect refers to a subtype of configural processing termed first-order relational information. The preference for whole bodies seems to be associated with activation pattern in body-sensitive brain regions. However, it remains unclear until now, which cortical area exactly mediates this preference. In the present study, we investigated whether there are neuronal populations that show a selective adaption to whole bodies compared to the sum of their parts. The right fusiform body area (FBA) showed a preference for whole bodies compared to the sum of their parts as the right and left fusiform face area showed a preference for whole faces compared to the sum of their parts. Thus, the present data support the idea that configural body and face processing is mediated by the fusiform gyrus. The current data further support the view that bodies are a special stimulus class with specific characteristics which are processed in body- sensitive brain areas.

Concepts: Neuroanatomy, Left-wing politics, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Fusiform face area, Fusiform gyrus, Parahippocampal gyrus


Alterations in interregional neural connectivity have been suggested as a signature of the pathobiology of autism. There have been many reports of functional and anatomical connectivity being altered while individuals with autism are engaged in complex cognitive and social tasks. Although disrupted instantaneous correlation between cortical regions observed from functional MRI is considered to be an explanatory model for autism, the causal influence of a brain area on another (effective connectivity) is a vital link missing in these studies. The current study focuses on addressing this in an fMRI study of Theory-of-Mind (ToM) in 15 high-functioning adolescents and adults with autism and 15 typically developing control participants. Participants viewed a series of comic strip vignettes in the MRI scanner and were asked to choose the most logical end to the story from three alternatives, separately for trials involving physical and intentional causality. The mean time series, extracted from 18 activated regions of interest, were processed using a multivariate autoregressive model (MVAR) to obtain the causality matrices for each of the 30 participants. These causal connectivity weights, along with assessment scores, functional connectivity values, and fractional anisotropy obtained from DTI data for each participant, were submitted to a recursive cluster elimination based support vector machine classifier to determine the accuracy with which the classifier can predict a novel participant’s group membership (autism or control). We found a maximum classification accuracy of 95.9% with 19 features which had the highest discriminative ability between the groups. All of the 19 features were effective connectivity paths, indicating that causal information may be critical in discriminating between autism and control groups. These effective connectivity paths were also found to be significantly greater in controls as compared to ASD participants and consisted predominantly of outputs from the fusiform face area and middle temporal gyrus indicating impaired connectivity in ASD participants, particularly in the social brain areas. These findings collectively point toward the fact that alterations in causal connectivity in the brain in ASD could serve as a potential non-invasive neuroimaging signature for autism.

Concepts: Scientific method, Brain, Neuroimaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebral cortex, Autism, Fusiform face area, Fusiform gyrus


Neural substrates underlying the human-pet relationship are largely unknown. We examined fMRI brain activation patterns as mothers viewed images of their own child and dog and an unfamiliar child and dog. There was a common network of brain regions involved in emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social cognition when mothers viewed images of both their child and dog. Viewing images of their child resulted in brain activity in the midbrain (ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra involved in reward/affiliation), while a more posterior cortical brain activation pattern involving fusiform gyrus (visual processing of faces and social cognition) characterized a mother’s response to her dog. Mothers also rated images of their child and dog as eliciting similar levels of excitement (arousal) and pleasantness (valence), although the difference in the own vs. unfamiliar child comparison was larger than the own vs. unfamiliar dog comparison for arousal. Valence ratings of their dog were also positively correlated with ratings of the attachment to their dog. Although there are similarities in the perceived emotional experience and brain function associated with the mother-child and mother-dog bond, there are also key differences that may reflect variance in the evolutionary course and function of these relationships.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroanatomy, Brain, Cognitive science, Cerebrum, Difference, Emotion, Fusiform gyrus


During social interactions, we make inferences about people’s personal characteristics based on their appearance. These inferences form a potential prejudice that can positively or negatively bias our interaction with them. Not much is known about the effects of negative bias on face perception and the ability to recognize people faces. This ability was investigated by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) from 128 sites in 16 volunteers. In the first session (encoding), they viewed 200 faces associated with a short fictional story that described anecdotal positive or negative characteristics about each person. In the second session (recognition), they underwent an old/new memory test, in which they had to distinguish 100 new faces from the previously shown faces. ERP data relative to the encoding phase showed a larger anterior negativity in response to negatively (vs. positively) biased faces, indicating an additional processing of faces with unpleasant social traits. In the recognition task, ERPs recorded in response to new faces elicited a larger FN400 than to old faces, and to positive than negative faces. Additionally, old faces elicited a larger Old-New parietal response than new faces, in the form of an enlarged late positive (LPC) component. An inverse solution SwLORETA (450-550 ms) indicated that remembering old faces was associated with the activation of right superior frontal gyrus (SFG), left medial temporal gyrus, and right fusiform gyrus. Only negatively connoted faces strongly activated the limbic and parahippocampal areas and the left SFG. A dissociation was found between familiarity (modulated by negative bias) and recollection (distinguishing old from new faces).

Concepts: Sociology, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Snake scales, Face perception, Fusiform face area, Fusiform gyrus, Political spectrum


Associations linking a fearful experience to a member of a social group other than one’s own (out-group) are more resistant to change than corresponding associations to a member of one’s own (in-group) (Olsson, Ebert, Banaji & Phelps, 2005; Kubota, Banaji & Phelps, 2012), providing a possible link to discriminative behavior. Using a fear conditioning paradigm, we investigated the neural activity underlying aversive learning biases towards in-group (White) and out-group (Black) members, and their predictive value for discriminatory interactive behavior towards novel virtual members of the racial out-group (n=20). Our results indicate that activity in brain regions previously linked to conditioned fear and perception of individuals belonging to the racial out-groups, or otherwise stigmatized groups, jointly contribute to the expression of race-based biases in learning and behavior. In particular, we found that the amygdala and anterior insula (AI) played key roles in differentiating between in-group and out-group faces both when the faces were paired with an aversive event (acquisition) and when no more shocks were administered (extinction). In addition, functional connectivity between the amygdala and the fusiform gyrus increased during perception of conditioned out-group faces. Moreover, we showed that brain activity in the fear-learning-bias network was related to participants' discriminatory interactions with novel out-group members on a later day. Our findings are the first to identify the neural mechanism of fear learning biases towards out-groups members, and its relationship to interactive behavior. Our findings provide important clues towards understanding the mechanisms underlying biases between social groups.

Concepts: Psychology, Amygdala, Cerebrum, Fusiform gyrus, Fear conditioning, Fear, Member of Parliament, Sociological terms