O n June 2018 the Annual Congress of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OBHM) will be held on Singapore, where a team from NeuroCICS will participate with eight research works. The abstracts accepted for the meeting are an excellent example of the different research lines of the NeuroCICS Laboratory, that represent the diversity of content and, also, the use of different methods in the measurement of brain activity. This includes the first set of projects working with measurements of electrical brain activity by Electroencephalogram (EEG) and techniques of non-invasive brain stimulation by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

The Annual Congress of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OBHM) will take place between 17-21 June, 2018, in Singapore.

Ph.D. Pablo Billeke Bobadilla will present his research work “Causal role of temporo-parietal brain oscillatory activity in social bargaining” (FONDECYT 11140535). In this project Billeke studied the region of the temporo-parietal junction that participates in the processing of intentions with other people was identified through the experimental paradigm of false beliefs with neuroimages based on Structural and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Then, using TMS and rhythmic EEG an oscillation in the alpha range (10Hz) was trained and a random stimulation was performed. Preliminary results show that the different stimulations change the pattern of people’s behaviors during a social negotiation game called the ultimatum game.

Gabriela Valdebenito-Oyarzo, a student of the Doctoral Program in Social Complexity Sciences of Universidad del Desarrollo, will submit the results from her research project unity “Posterior Parental Cortex encodes prediction error during decision-making under ambiguity”. This study, also part of the FONDECYT 1140535, identified by functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) a region in the dorsal part of the posterior parietal lobe, whose activity correlates with the prediction error in a specific way for the evaluation of the results of an ambiguous decision, which is defined as the of decision with probabilistic results, not knowing exactly the probabilities of the outcome.

image hover
Gabriela Valdebenito-Oyarzo preparing a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI).

María Paz Martínez-Molina, also a student of the Doctoral Program in Social Complexity Sciences, and Ph.D. Francisco Zamorano Mendieta will present their research work linked to proactive cognitive control. This research research seeks to study if there is a causal role of theta oscillatory activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex in proactive cognitive control. Proactive cognitive control is the process through which we anticipate the need for cognitive control, depending on the context of the task in execution.

“Theta activity training in lateral prefrontal cortex increases proactive cognitive control” María Paz Martínez studies how healthy adult subjects performed proactive cognitive control tasks using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation with electroencephalography (TMS-EEG). Findings show that theta non-invasive brain stimulation improves this type of cognitive control, this prove a causal role for theta oscillatory activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex in proactive cognitive control. The study with children, “Dorsolateral prefrontal theta oscillations reflect contextual cognitive impairment in ADHD”, Ph.D. Francisco Zamorano Mendieta indicated that, as the subjects effectively anticipate the need for cognitive control, it increases lateral prefrontal activity. In contrast, children with attention deficit and hyperactivity do not present this anticipatory activity, not observing prefrontal theta activity.

image hover
Maria Paz Martínez-Molina performing Electroencephalography (EEG) with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in neuroCICS

Ph.D. (c) Leonie Kausel will present her study “Superior frontal gyrus characterizes auditory selective attention in musically trained children”, which seeks to elucidate the neural correlates to focus and divide the attention between auditory (melodies) and visual stimuli ( abstract figures) in children, with and without musical training, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The task was that the children were presented with stimuli simultaneously and asked to focus only on one of them (selective attention) or both (divided attention). Then they were asked if they remembered the stimuli presented. Children with musical training showed better performance in memory tasks than children without musical training, as well as greater activation of parts of the brain involved in attentional control (eg, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, superior parietal lobe), highlighting a strong activation in the Superior frontal rotation during the condition of selective auditory attention. The results indicate that musical training could strengthen the ability to focus and divide attention between bimodal stimuli, which would be reflected in greater activity of the fronto-parietal care network when performing an attentional task of this type.

Ph.D. Mauricio Aspé-Sánchez, also student of the Doctoral Program in Social Complexity Sciences, will present his research on “Unmasking reciprocity: Frontomedial negativity underlying the integration of outcomes and intentions in trust-repayment behavior”, where he uses the investment game and the dictator’s game, in conjunction with measurements of electroencephalography, to elucidate the role of altruism and reciprocity in making social decisions, as well as the neurophysiological processes that underlie these processes. In his research, he found that subjects manifest positive reciprocity only when they perceive that a greater amount of confidence has been deposited in them than a critical point: under that critical point, subjects respond to trust with negative reciprocity. In addition, he found that a certain type of electrophysiological activity of the medial prefrontal lobe, called “frontomedial negativity,” differs when the subjects manifest reciprocity or altruism.

Ph.D. (c) Claudio Lavín, will submit part of the results of his doctoral thesis “Neural basis of pro-social decision-making”, in which he tests the influence and the cerebral bases of empathy and strategic thinking in the taking of prosocial decisions, using a social decision-making game, where participants have the option to demonstrate prosocial behavior towards others. The results showed that the participants tended to cooperate more when their decisions were associated with an aid behavior (condition of empathy) and when cooperation implied a strategic value (strategic condition). In addition, when the cooperation involved costs for the participants, they showed brain responses associated with a greater attention to the task under this situation.

Finally, Dr. Patricia Soto-Icaza, will present her work “Beta oscillations in the temporo-parietal region during joint attention in autism”, which studies children between 2 and 4 years of age who begin to acquire the ability to perceive the intentions of others (theory of mind). In a joint attention task, it was found that children who already have this ability have beta activity in the temporo-parietal junction. Also in the study it was found that children with autism spectrum disorder do not have this activity. In this way, this beta oscillatory activity can be a marker of the acquisition of social skills during childhood.