Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 10

Neuroscience Related Abstracts

10 Analysis of iPSC-Derived Dopaminergic Neuron Susceptibility to Influenza and Excitotoxicity in Non-Affective Psychosis

Authors: Jamileh Ahmed, Helena Hernandez, Gabriel De Erausquin


H1N1 virus susceptibility of iPSC-derived DA neurons from schizophrenia patients and controls will compared. C57/BL-6 fibroblasts were reprogrammed into iPSCs using a lenti-viral vector containing SOKM genes. Pluripotency verification with the AP assay and immunocytochemistry ensured iPSC presence. The experimental outcome of ISPCs from DA neuron differentiation will be discussed in the Results section. Fibroblasts from patients and controls will be reprogrammed into iPSCs using a sendai-virus vector containing SOKM. IPSCs will be characterized using the AP assay, immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR. IPSCs will then be differentiated into DA neurons. Gene methylation will be compared for both groups with custom-designed microarrays.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Stem Cells, Schizophrenia, iPSCs

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9 Taleb's Complexity Theory Concept of 'Antifragility' Has a Significant Contribution to Make to Positive Psychology as Applied to Wellbeing

Authors: Claudius Peter Van Wyk


Given the increasingly manifest phenomena, as described in complexity theory, of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), Taleb's notion of 'antifragility, has a significant contribution to make to positive psychology applied to wellbeing. Antifragility is argued to be fundamentally different from the concepts of resiliency; as the ability to recover from failure, and robustness; as the ability to resist failure. Rather it describes the capacity to reorganise in the face of stress in such a way as to cope more effectively with systemic challenges. The concept, which has been applied in disciplines ranging from physics, molecular biology, planning, engineering, and computer science, can now be considered for its application in individual human and social wellbeing. There are strong correlations to Antonovsky's model of 'salutogenesis' in which an attitude and competencies are developed of transforming burdening factors into greater resourcefulness. We demonstrate, from the perspective of neuroscience, how technology measuring nervous system coherence can be coupled to acquired psychodynamic approaches to not only identify contextual stressors, utilise biofeedback instruments for facilitating greater coherence, but apply these insights to specific life stressors that compromise well-being. Employing an on-going case study with BMW South Africa, the neurological mapping is demonstrated together with 'reframing' and emotional anchoring techniques from neurolinguistic programming. The argument is contextualised in the discipline of psychoneuroimmunology which describes the stress pathways from the CNS and endocrine systems and their impact on immune function and the capacity to restore homeostasis.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Complexity, Psychoneuroimmunology, volatility, antifragility, salutogenesis

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8 Phorbol 12-Myristate 13-Acetate (PMA)-Differentiated THP-1 Monocytes as a Validated Microglial-Like Model in Vitro

Authors: Andrew K. Davey, Shailendra Anoopkumar-Dukie, Amelia J. McFarland


Microglia are the resident macrophage population of the central nervous system (CNS), contributing to both innate and adaptive immune response, and brain homeostasis. Activation of microglia occurs in response to a multitude of pathogenic stimuli in their microenvironment; this induces morphological and functional changes, resulting in a state of acute neuroinflammation which facilitates injury resolution. Adequate microglial function is essential for the health of the neuroparenchyma, with microglial dysfunction implicated in numerous CNS pathologies. Given the critical role that these macrophage-derived cells play in CNS homeostasis, there is a high demand for microglial models suitable for use in neuroscience research. The isolation of primary human microglia, however, is both difficult and costly, with microglial activation an unwanted but inevitable result of the extraction process. Consequently, there is a need for the development of alternative experimental models which exhibit morphological, biochemical and functional characteristics of human microglia without the difficulties associated with primary cell lines. In this study, our aim was to evaluate whether THP-1 human peripheral blood monocytes would display microglial-like qualities following an induced differentiation, and, therefore, be suitable for use as surrogate microglia. To achieve this aim, THP-1 human peripheral blood monocytes from acute monocytic leukaemia were differentiated with a range of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) concentrations (50-200 nM) using two different protocols: a 5-day continuous PMA exposure or a 3-day continuous PMA exposure followed by a 5-day rest in normal media. In each protocol and at each PMA concentration, microglial-like cell morphology was assessed through crystal violet staining and the presence of CD-14 microglial / macrophage cell surface marker. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Escherichia coli (055: B5) was then added at a range of concentrations from 0-10 mcg/mL to activate the PMA-differentiated THP-1 cells. Functional microglial-like behavior was evaluated by quantifying the release of prostaglandin (PG)-E2 and pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α using mediator-specific ELISAs. Furthermore, production of global reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) were determined fluorometrically using dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (DCFH-DA) and diaminofluorescein diacetate (DAF-2-DA) respectively. Following PMA-treatment, it was observed both differentiation protocols resulted in cells displaying distinct microglial morphology from 10 nM PMA. Activation of differentiated cells using LPS significantly augmented IL-1β, TNF-α and PGE2 release at all LPS concentrations under both differentiation protocols. Similarly, a significant increase in DCFH-DA and DAF-2-DA fluorescence was observed, indicative of increases in ROS and NO production. For all endpoints, the 5-day continuous PMA treatment protocol yielded significantly higher mediator levels than the 3-day treatment and 5-day rest protocol. Our data, therefore, suggests that the differentiation of THP-1 human monocyte cells with PMA yields a homogenous microglial-like population which, following stimulation with LPS, undergo activation to release a range of pro-inflammatory mediators associated with microglial activation. Thus, the use of PMA-differentiated THP-1 cells represents a suitable microglial model for in vitro research.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Differentiation, lipopolysaccharide, microglia, monocyte, THP-1

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7 Understanding Consumer Behaviors by Using Neuromarketing Tools and Methods

Authors: Tabrej Khan


Neuromarketing can refer to the commercial application of neuroscience technologies and insights to drive business further. On the other side, consumer neuroscience can be seen as the academic use of neuroscience to better understand marketing effects on consumer behavior. Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing is a multidisciplinary effort between economics, psychology, and neuroscience and information technology. Traditional methods are using survey, interviews, focus group people are overtly and consciously reporting on their experience and thoughts. The unconscious side of customer behavior is largely unmeasured in the traditional methods. Neuroscience has a potential to understand the unconscious part. Through this paper, we are going to present specific results of selected tools and methods that are used to understand consumer behaviors.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Tools, Neuromarketing, consumer behaviors

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6 The Neuroscience Dimension of Juvenile Law Effectuates a Comprehensive Treatment of Youth in the Criminal System

Authors: Khushboo Shah


Categorical bans on the death penalty and life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders in a growing number of countries have established a new era in juvenile jurisprudence. This has been brought about by integration of the growing knowledge in cognitive neuroscience and appreciation of the inherent differences between adults and adolescents over the last ten years. This evolving understanding of being a child in the criminal system can be aptly reflected through policies that incorporate the mitigating traits of youth. First, the presentation will delineate the structures in cognitive neuroscience and in particular, focus on the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the basal ganglia. These key anatomical structures in the brain are linked to three mitigating adolescent traits—an underdeveloped sense of responsibility, an increased vulnerability to negative influences, and transitory personality traits—that establish why juveniles have a lessened culpability. The discussion will delve into the details depicting how an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex results in the heightened emotional angst, high-energy and risky behavior characteristic of the adolescent time period or how the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, governs different emotional expression resulting in why teens are susceptible to negative influences. Based on this greater understanding, it is incumbent that policies adequately reflect the adolescent physiology and psychology in the criminal system. However, it is important to ensure that these views are appropriately weighted while considering the jurisprudence for the treatment of children in the law. To ensure this balance is appropriately stricken, policies must incorporate the distinctive traits of youth in sentencing and legal considerations and yet refrain from the potential fallacies of absolving a juvenile offender of guilt and culpability. Accordingly, three policies will demonstrate how these results can be achieved: (1) eliminate housing of juvenile offenders in the adult prison system, (2) mandate fitness hearings for all transfers of juveniles to adult criminal court, and (3) use the post-disposition review as a type of rehabilitation method for juvenile offenders. Ultimately, this interdisciplinary approach of science and law allows for a better understanding of adolescent psychological and social functioning and can effectuate better legal outcomes for juveniles tried as adults.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Interdisciplinary, Criminal Law, Juvenile Justice

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5 A Survey and Theory of the Effects of Various Hamlet Videos on Viewers’ Brains

Authors: Mark Pizzato


How do ideas, images, and emotions in stage-plays and videos affect us? Do they evoke a greater awareness (or cognitive reappraisal of emotions) through possible shifts between left-cortical, right-cortical, and subcortical networks? To address these questions, this presentation summarizes the research of various neuroscientists, especially Bernard Baars and others involved in Global Workspace Theory, Matthew Lieberman in social neuroscience, Iain McGilchrist on left and right cortical functions, and Jaak Panksepp on the subcortical circuits of primal emotions. Through such research, this presentation offers an ‘inner theatre’ model of the brain, regarding major hubs of neural networks and our animal ancestry. It also considers recent experiments, by Mario Beauregard, on the cognitive reappraisal of sad, erotic, and aversive film clips. Finally, it applies the inner-theatre model and related research to survey results of theatre students who read and then watched the ‘To be or not to be’ speech in 8 different video versions (from stage and screen productions) of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Findings show that students become aware of left-cortical, right-cortical, and subcortical brain functions—and shifts between them—through staging and movie-making choices in each of the different videos.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Theatre, shakespeare, cognitive reappraisal, Hamlet

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4 Exploring the Neural Mechanisms of Communication and Cooperation in Children and Adults

Authors: Sara Mosteller, Larissa K. Samuelson, Sobanawartiny Wijeakumar, John P. Spencer


This study was designed to examine how humans are able to teach and learn semantic information as well as cooperate in order to jointly achieve sophisticated goals. Specifically, we are measuring individual differences in how these abilities develop from foundational building blocks in early childhood. The current study adopts a paradigm for novel noun learning developed by Samuelson, Smith, Perry, and Spencer (2011) to a hyperscanning paradigm [Cui, Bryant and Reiss, 2012]. This project measures coordinated brain activity between a parent and child using simultaneous functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) in pairs of 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5-year-old children and their parents. We are also separately testing pairs of adult friends. Children and parents, or adult friends, are seated across from one another at a table. The parent (in the developmental study) then teaches their child the names of novel toys. An experimenter then tests the child by presenting the objects in pairs and asking the child to retrieve one object by name. Children are asked to choose from both pairs of familiar objects and pairs of novel objects. In order to explore individual differences in cooperation with the same participants, each dyad plays a cooperative game of Jenga, in which their joint score is based on how many blocks they can remove from the tower as a team. A preliminary analysis of the noun-learning task showed that, when presented with 6 word-object mappings, children learned an average of 3 new words (50%) and that the number of objects learned by each child ranged from 2-4. Adults initially learned all of the new words but were variable in their later retention of the mappings, which ranged from 50-100%. We are currently examining differences in cooperative behavior during the Jenga playing game, including time spent discussing each move before it is made. Ongoing analyses are examining the social dynamics that might underlie the differences between words that were successfully learned and unlearned words for each dyad, as well as the developmental differences observed in the study. Additionally, the Jenga game is being used to better understand individual and developmental differences in social coordination during a cooperative task. At a behavioral level, the analysis maps periods of joint visual attention between participants during the word learning and the Jenga game, using head-mounted eye trackers to assess each participant’s first-person viewpoint during the session. We are also analyzing the coherence in brain activity between participants during novel word-learning and Jenga playing. The first hypothesis is that visual joint attention during the session will be positively correlated with both the number of words learned and with the number of blocks moved during Jenga before the tower falls. The next hypothesis is that successful communication of new words and success in the game will each be positively correlated with synchronized brain activity between the parent and child/the adult friends in cortical regions underlying social cognition, semantic processing, and visual processing. This study probes both the neural and behavioral mechanisms of learning and cooperation in a naturalistic, interactive and developmental context.

Keywords: Development, Communication, Neuroscience, Interaction, cooperation

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3 Teaching Children about Their Brains: Evaluating the Role of Neuroscience Undergraduates in Primary School Education

Authors: Clea Southall


Many children leave primary school having formed preconceptions about their relationship with science. Thus, primary school represents a critical window for stimulating scientific interest in younger children. Engagement relies on the provision of hands-on activities coupled with an ability to capture a child’s innate curiosity. This requires children to perceive science topics as interesting and relevant to their everyday life. Teachers and pupils alike have suggested the school curriculum be tailored to help stimulate scientific interest. Young children are naturally inquisitive about the human body; the brain is one topic which frequently engages pupils, although it is not currently included in the UK primary curriculum. Teaching children about the brain could have wider societal impacts such as increasing knowledge of neurological disorders. However, many primary school teachers do not receive formal neuroscience training and may feel apprehensive about delivering lessons on the nervous system. This is exacerbated by a lack of educational neuroscience resources. One solution is for undergraduates to form partnerships with schools - delivering engaging lessons and supplementing teacher knowledge. The aim of this project was to evaluate the success of a short lesson on the brain delivered by an undergraduate neuroscientist to primary school pupils. Prior to entering schools, semi-structured online interviews were conducted with teachers to gain pedagogical advice and relevant websites were searched for neuroscience resources. Subsequently, a single lesson plan was created comprising of four hands-on activities. The activities were devised in a top-down manner, beginning with learning about the brain as an entity, before focusing on individual neurons. Students were asked to label a ‘brain map’ to assess prior knowledge of brain structure and function. They viewed animal brains and created ‘pipe-cleaner neurons’ which were later used to depict electrical transmission. The same session was delivered by an undergraduate student to 570 key stage 2 (KS2) pupils across five schools in Leeds, UK. Post-session surveys, designed for teachers and pupils respectively, were used to evaluate the session. Children in all year groups had relatively poor knowledge of brain structure and function at the beginning of the session. When asked to label four brain regions with their respective functions, older pupils labeled a mean of 1.5 (± 1.0) brain regions compared to 0.8 (± 0.96) for younger pupils (p=0.002). However, by the end of the session, 95% of pupils felt their knowledge of the brain had increased. Hands-on activities were rated most popular by pupils and were considered the most successful aspect of the session by teachers. Although only half the teachers were aware of neuroscience educational resources, nearly all (95%) felt they would have more confidence in teaching a similar session in the future. All teachers felt the session was engaging and that the content could be linked to the current curriculum. Thus, a short fifty-minute session can successfully enhance pupils’ knowledge of a new topic: the brain. Partnerships with an undergraduate student can provide an alternative method for supplementing teacher knowledge, increasing their confidence in delivering future lessons on the nervous system.

Keywords: Education, Neuroscience, primary school, undergraduate

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2 A Holistic Approach of Cross-Cultural Management with Insight from Neuroscience

Authors: Mai Nguyen-Phuong-Mai


This paper incorporates insight from various models, studies and disciplines to construct a framework called the Inverted Pyramid Model. It is argued that such a framework has several advantages: (1) it reduces the shortcomings of the problem-focused approach that dominates the mainstream theories of cross-cultural management. With contributing insight from neuroscience, it suggests that training in business cross-cultural awareness should start with potential synergy emerged from differences instead of the traditional approach that focuses on the liability of foreigners and negative consequences of cultural distance. (2) The framework supports a dynamic and holistic way of analyzing cultural diversity by analyzing four major cultural units (global, national, organizational and group culture). (3) The framework emphasizes the role of individuals –an aspect of culture that is often ignored or regarded as a non-issue in the traditional approach. It is based on the notion that people don’t do business with a country, but work (in)directly with a unique person. And it is at this individual level that culture is made, personally, dynamically, and contextually. Insight from neuroscience provides significant evidence that a person can develop a multicultural mind, confirm and contradict, follow and reshape a culture, even when (s)he was previously an outsider to this culture. With this insight, the paper proposes a revision of the old adage (Think global – Act local) and change it into Think global – Plan local – Act individual.

Keywords: Neuroscience, Cultural Diversity, static–dynamic paradigm, multicultural mind

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1 Development of an Artificial Neural Network to Measure Science Literacy Leveraging Neuroscience

Authors: Amanda Kavner, Richard Lamb


Faster growth in science and technology of other nations may make staying globally competitive more difficult without shifting focus on how science is taught in US classes. An integral part of learning science involves visual and spatial thinking since complex, and real-world phenomena are often expressed in visual, symbolic, and concrete modes. The primary barrier to spatial thinking and visual literacy in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields is representational competence, which includes the ability to generate, transform, analyze and explain representations, as opposed to generic spatial ability. Although the relationship is known between the foundational visual literacy and the domain-specific science literacy, science literacy as a function of science learning is still not well understood. Moreover, the need for a more reliable measure is necessary to design resources which enhance the fundamental visuospatial cognitive processes behind scientific literacy. To support the improvement of students’ representational competence, first visualization skills necessary to process these science representations needed to be identified, which necessitates the development of an instrument to quantitatively measure visual literacy. With such a measure, schools, teachers, and curriculum designers can target the individual skills necessary to improve students’ visual literacy, thereby increasing science achievement. This project details the development of an artificial neural network capable of measuring science literacy using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIR) data. This data was previously collected by Project LENS standing for Leveraging Expertise in Neurotechnologies, a Science of Learning Collaborative Network (SL-CN) of scholars of STEM Education from three US universities (NSF award 1540888), utilizing mental rotation tasks, to assess student visual literacy. Hemodynamic response data from fNIRsoft was exported as an Excel file, with 80 of both 2D Wedge and Dash models (dash) and 3D Stick and Ball models (BL). Complexity data were in an Excel workbook separated by the participant (ID), containing information for both types of tasks. After changing strings to numbers for analysis, spreadsheets with measurement data and complexity data were uploaded to RapidMiner’s TurboPrep and merged. Using RapidMiner Studio, a Gradient Boosted Trees artificial neural network (ANN) consisting of 140 trees with a maximum depth of 7 branches was developed, and 99.7% of the ANN predictions are accurate. The ANN determined the biggest predictors to a successful mental rotation are the individual problem number, the response time and fNIR optode #16, located along the right prefrontal cortex important in processing visuospatial working memory and episodic memory retrieval; both vital for science literacy. With an unbiased measurement of science literacy provided by psychophysiological measurements with an ANN for analysis, educators and curriculum designers will be able to create targeted classroom resources to help improve student visuospatial literacy, therefore improving science literacy.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Neuroscience, Machine Learning, Artificial Neural Network, science literacy

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