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Memory problems are one of the most common symptoms of sport-related mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), known as concussion. Surprisingly, little research has examined spatial memory in concussed athletes given its importance in athletic environments. Here, we combine functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a virtual reality (VR) paradigm designed to investigate the possibility of residual functional deficits in recently concussed but asymptomatic individuals. Specifically, we report performance of spatial memory navigation tasks in a VR environment and fMRI data in 15 athletes suffering from MTBI and 15 neurologically normal, athletically active age matched controls. No differences in performance were observed between these two groups of subjects in terms of success rate (94 and 92%) and time to complete the spatial memory navigation tasks (mean = 19.5 and 19.7 s). Whole brain analysis revealed that similar brain activation patterns were observed during both encoding and retrieval among the groups. However, concussed athletes showed larger cortical networks with additional increases in activity outside of the shared region of interest (ROI) during encoding. Quantitative analysis of blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal revealed that concussed individuals had a significantly larger cluster size during encoding at parietal cortex, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and right hippocampus. In addition, there was a significantly larger BOLD signal percent change at the right hippocampus. Neither cluster size nor BOLD signal percent change at shared ROIs was different between groups during retrieval. These major findings are discussed with respect to current hypotheses regarding the neural mechanism responsible for alteration of brain functions in a clinical setting. PMID:20039023
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The objective of the study is to provide some implications for rehabilitation of hearing impairment by investigating changes of neural activities of directional brain networks in patients with long-term bilateral hearing loss. Firstly, we implemented neuropsychological tests of 21 subjects (11 patients with long-term bilateral hearing loss, and 10 subjects with normal hearing), and these tests revealed significant differences between the deaf group and the controls. Then we constructed the individual specific virtual brain based on functional magnetic resonance data of participants by utilizing effective connectivity and multivariate regression methods. We exerted the stimulating signal to the primary auditory cortices of the virtual brain and observed the brain region activations. We found that patients with long-term bilateral hearing loss presented weaker brain region activations in the auditory and language networks, but enhanced neural activities in the default mode network as compared with normally hearing subjects. Especially, the right cerebral hemisphere presented more changes than the left. Additionally, weaker neural activities in the primary auditor cortices were also strongly associated with poorer cognitive performance. Finally, causal analysis revealed several interactional circuits among activated brain regions, and these interregional causal interactions implied that abnormal neural activities of the directional brain networks in the deaf patients impacted cognitive function.
Agrin is a heparan sulfate proteoglycan that is widely expressed in neurons and microvascular basal lamina in the rodent and avian central nervous system. Agrin induces the differentiation of nerve-muscle synapses, but its function in either normal or diseased brains is not known. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by loss of synapses, changes in microvascular architecture, and formation of neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques. Here we have asked whether AD causes changes in the distribution and biochemical properties of agrin. Immunostaining of normal, aged human central nervous system revealed that agrin is expressed in neurons in multiple brain areas. Robust agrin immunoreactivity was observed uniformly in the microvascular basal lamina. In AD brains, agrin is highly concentrated in both diffuse and neuritic plaques as well as neurofibrillary tangles; neuronal expression of agrin also was observed. Furthermore, patients with AD had microvascular alterations characterized by thinning and fragmentation of the basal lamina. Detergent extraction and Western blotting showed that virtually all the agrin in normal brain is soluble in 1% SDS. In contrast, a large fraction of the agrin in AD brains is insoluble under these conditions, suggesting that it is tightly associated with β -amyloid. Together, these data indicate that the agrin abnormalities observed in AD are closely linked to β -amyloid deposition. These observations suggest that altered agrin expression in the microvasculature and the brain parenchyma contribute to the pathogenesis of AD.
Dysfunction of the hippocampus has long been suspected to be a key component of the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder. Despite evidence of hippocampal structural abnormalities in depressed patients, abnormal hippocampal functioning has not been demonstrated. The authors aimed to link spatial navigation deficits previously documented in depressed patients to abnormal hippocampal functioning using a virtual reality navigation task. Whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings were collected while participants (19 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder and 19 healthy subjects matched by gender and age) navigated a virtual Morris water maze to find a hidden platform; navigation to a visible platform served as a control condition. Behavioral measures were obtained to assess navigation performance. Theta oscillatory activity (4-8 Hz) was mapped across the brain on a voxel-wise basis using a spatial-filtering MEG source analysis technique. Depressed patients performed worse than healthy subjects in navigating to the hidden platform. Robust group differences in theta activity were observed in right medial temporal cortices during navigation, with patients exhibiting less engagement of the anterior hippocampus and parahippocampal cortices relative to comparison subjects. Left posterior hippocampal theta activity was positively correlated with individual performance within each group. Consistent with previous findings, depressed patients showed impaired spatial navigation. Dysfunction of right anterior hippocampus and parahippocampal cortices may underlie this deficit and stem from structural abnormalities commonly found in depressed patients.
This systematic review aimed to establish the current knowledge about brain structure and executive function (EF) in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Five databases were searched (up till July 2012). Six articles met the inclusion criteria, all included structural brain imaging though no functional brain imaging. Study quality was assessed using the STROBE checklist. All articles scored between 58.7% and 70.5% for quality (100% is the maximum score). The included studies all reported poorer performance on EF tasks for children with CP compared to children without CP. For the selected EF measures non-significant effect sizes were found for the CP group compared to a semi-control group (children without cognitive deficits but not included in a control group). This could be due to the small sample sizes, group heterogeneity and lack of comparison of the CP group to typically developing children. The included studies did not consider specific brain areas associated with EF performance. To conclude, there is a paucity of brain imaging studies focused on EF in children with CP, especially of studies that include functional brain imaging. Outcomes of the present studies are difficult to compare as each study included different EF measures and cortical abnormality measures. Copyright 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.