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Title: Haptic exploration attenuates and alters somatosensory cortical oscillations: Somatosensory haptic cortical oscillations
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Journal of Physiology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 5051-5061
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Adolescents demonstrate increasing mastery of motor actions with age. One prevailing hypothesis is that maturation of the somatosensory system during adolescence contributes to the improved motor control. However, limited efforts have been made to determine if somatosensory cortical processing is different in adolescents during movement. In this study, we used magnetoencephalographic brain imaging to begin addressing this knowledge gap by applying an electrical stimulation to the tibial nerve as adolescents (Age = 14.8 ± 2.5 yrs.) and adults (Age = 36.8 ± 5.0 yrs.) produced an isometric ankle plantarflexion force, or sat with no motor activity. Our results showed strong somatosensory cortical oscillations for both conditions in the alpha-beta (8–30 Hz) and gamma (38–80 Hz) ranges that occurred immediately after the stimulation (0–125 ms), and a beta (18–26 Hz) oscillatory response shortly thereafter (300–400 ms). Compared with the passive condition, all of these frequency specific cortical oscillations were attenuated while producing the ankle force. The attenuation of the alpha-beta response was greater in adolescents, while the adults had a greater attenuation of the beta response. These results imply that altered attenuation of the somatosensory cortical oscillations might be central to the under-developed somatosensory processing and motor performance characteristics in adolescents.

  2. Central and autonomic nervous system activities are coupled during sleep. Cortical slow oscillations (SOs; <1 Hz) coincide with brief bursts in heart rate (HR), but the functional consequence of this coupling in cognition remains elusive. We measured SO–HR temporal coupling (i.e., the peak-to-peak interval between downstate of SO event and HR burst) during a daytime nap and asked whether this SO–HR timing measure was associated with temporal processing speed and learning on a texture discrimination task by testing participants before and after a nap. The coherence of SO–HR events during sleep strongly correlated with an individual's temporal processing speed in the morning and evening test sessions, but not with their change in performance after the nap (i.e., consolidation). We confirmed this result in two additional experimental visits and also discovered that this association was visit-specific, indicating a state (not trait) marker. Thus, we introduce a novel physiological index that may be a useful marker of state-dependent processing speed of an individual.