Neural Plasticity http://www.hindawi.com The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2016 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. Restoring Spinal Noradrenergic Inhibitory Tone Attenuates Pain Hypersensitivity in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:42:24 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/6383240/ In the present study, we investigated whether restoring descending noradrenergic inhibitory tone can attenuate pain in a PD rat model, which was established by stereotaxic infusion of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the bilateral striatum (CPu). PD rats developed thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity at the 4th week after surgery. HPLC analysis showed that NE content, but not dopamine or 5-HT, significantly decreased in lumbar spinal cord in PD rats. Additional noradrenergic depletion by injection of N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine (DSP-4) aggravated pain hypersensitivity in PD rats. At the 5th week after injection of 6-OHDA, systemic treatment with pharmacological norepinephrine (NE) precursor droxidopa (L-DOPS) or 2 adrenoceptor agonist clonidine significantly attenuated thermal and mechanical pain hypersensitivity in PD rats. Furthermore, application of norepinephrine (NE) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) reuptake inhibitors duloxetine, but not 5-HT selective reuptake inhibitors sertraline, significantly inhibited thermal and mechanical pain hypersensitivity in PD rats. Systemic administration of Madopar (L-DOPA) or the D2/D3 agonist pramipexole slightly inhibited the thermal, but not mechanical, hypersensitivity in PD rats. Thus, our study revealed that impairment of descending noradrenergic system may play a key role in PD-associated pain and restoring spinal noradrenergic inhibitory tone may serve as a novel strategy to manage PD-associated pain. Lei-Fang Cao, Xiao-Yan Peng, Ya Huang, Bing Wang, Feng-Ming Zhou, Ruo-Xiao Cheng, Li-Hua Chen, Wei-Feng Luo, and Tong Liu Copyright © 2016 Lei-Fang Cao et al. All rights reserved. MRI Biomarkers for Hand-Motor Outcome Prediction and Therapy Monitoring following Stroke Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:50:40 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/9265621/ Several biomarkers have been identified which enable a considerable prediction of hand-motor outcome after cerebral damage already in the subacute stage after stroke. We here review the value of MRI biomarkers in the evaluation of corticospinal integrity and functional recruitment of motor resources. Many of the functional imaging parameters are not feasible early after stroke or for patients with high impairment and low compliance. Whereas functional connectivity parameters have demonstrated varying results on their predictive value for hand-motor outcome, corticospinal integrity evaluation using structural imaging showed robust and high predictive power for patients with different levels of impairment. Although this is indicative of an overall higher value of structural imaging for prediction, we suggest that this variation be explained by structure and function relationships. To gain more insight into the recovering brain, not only one biomarker is needed. We rather argue for a combination of different measures in an algorithm to classify fine-graded subgroups of patients. Approaches to determining biomarkers have to take into account the established markers to provide further information on certain subgroups. Assessing the best therapy approaches for individual patients will become more feasible as these subgroups become specified in more detail. This procedure will help to considerably save resources and optimize neurorehabilitative therapy. U. Horn, M. Grothe, and M. Lotze Copyright © 2016 U. Horn et al. All rights reserved. Enhanced Neuroplasticity by the Metabolic Enhancer Piracetam Associated with Improved Mitochondrial Dynamics and Altered Permeability Transition Pore Function Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:44:34 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/8075903/ The mitochondrial cascade hypothesis of dementia assumes mitochondrial dysfunction leading to reduced energy supply, impaired neuroplasticity, and finally cell death as one major pathomechanism underlying the continuum from brain aging over mild cognitive impairment to initial and advanced late onset Alzheimer’s disease. Accordingly, improving mitochondrial function has become an important strategy to treat the early stages of this continuum. The metabolic enhancer piracetam has been proposed as possible prototype for those compounds by increasing impaired mitochondrial function and related aspects like mechanisms of neuroplasticity. We here report that piracetam at therapeutically relevant concentrations improves neuritogenesis in the human cell line SH-SY5Y over conditions mirroring the whole spectrum of age-associated cognitive decline. These effects go parallel with improvement of impaired mitochondrial dynamics shifting back fission and fusion balance to the energetically more favorable fusion site. Impaired fission and fusion balance can also be induced by a reduction of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) function as atractyloside which indicates the mPTP has similar effects on mitochondrial dynamics. These changes are also reduced by piracetam. These findings suggest the mPTP as an important target for the beneficial effects of piracetam on mitochondrial function. Carola Stockburger, Davide Miano, Thea Pallas, Kristina Friedland, and Walter E. Müller Copyright © 2016 Carola Stockburger et al. All rights reserved. Sniff-Like Patterned Input Results in Long-Term Plasticity at the Rat Olfactory Bulb Mitral and Tufted Cell to Granule Cell Synapse Mon, 26 Sep 2016 07:39:30 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/9124986/ During odor sensing the activity of principal neurons of the mammalian olfactory bulb, the mitral and tufted cells (MTCs), occurs in repetitive bursts that are synchronized to respiration, reminiscent of hippocampal theta-gamma coupling. Axonless granule cells (GCs) mediate self- and lateral inhibitory interactions between the excitatory MTCs via reciprocal dendrodendritic synapses. We have explored long-term plasticity at this synapse by using a theta burst stimulation (TBS) protocol and variations thereof. GCs were excited via glomerular stimulation in acute brain slices. We find that TBS induces exclusively long-term depression in the majority of experiments, whereas single bursts (“single-sniff paradigm”) can elicit both long-term potentiation and depression. Statistical analysis predicts that the mechanism underlying this bidirectional plasticity involves the proportional addition or removal of presynaptic release sites. Gamma stimulation with the same number of APs as in TBS was less efficient in inducing plasticity. Both TBS- and “single-sniff paradigm”-induced plasticity depend on NMDA receptor activation. Since the onset of plasticity is very rapid and requires little extra activity, we propose that these forms of plasticity might play a role already during an ongoing search for odor sources. Our results imply that components of both short-term and long-term olfactory memory may be encoded at this synapse. Mahua Chatterjee, Fernando Perez de los Cobos Pallares, Alex Loebel, Michael Lukas, and Veronica Egger Copyright © 2016 Mahua Chatterjee et al. All rights reserved. Effects of a Single Session of High Intensity Interval Treadmill Training on Corticomotor Excitability following Stroke: Implications for Therapy Sun, 25 Sep 2016 14:03:39 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/1686414/ Objective. High intensity interval treadmill training (HIITT) has been gaining popularity for gait rehabilitation after stroke. In this study, we examined the changes in excitability of the lower limb motor cortical representation (M1) in chronic stroke survivors following a single session of HIITT. We also determined whether exercise-induced changes in excitability could be modulated by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) enhanced with a paretic ankle skill acquisition task. Methods. Eleven individuals with chronic stroke participated in two 40-minute treadmill-training sessions: HIITT alone and HITT preceded by anodal tDCS enhanced with a skill acquisition task (e-tDCS+HIITT). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to assess corticomotor excitability of paretic and nonparetic tibialis anterior (TA) muscles. Results. HIIT alone reduced paretic TA M1 excitability in 7 of 11 participants by ≥ 10%. e-tDCS+HIITT increased paretic TA M1 excitability and decreased nonparetic TA M1 excitability. Conclusions. HIITT suppresses corticomotor excitability in some people with chronic stroke. When HIITT is preceded by tDCS in combination with a skill acquisition task, the asymmetry of between-hemisphere corticomotor excitability is reduced. Significance. This study provides preliminary data indicating that the cardiovascular benefits of HIITT may be achieved without suppressing motor excitability in some stroke survivors. Sangeetha Madhavan, James W. Stinear, and Neeta Kanekar Copyright © 2016 Sangeetha Madhavan et al. All rights reserved. Senior Dance Experience, Cognitive Performance, and Brain Volume in Older Women Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:56:03 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/9837321/ Physical activity is positively related to cognitive functioning and brain volume in older adults. Interestingly, different types of physical activity vary in their effects on cognition and on the brain. For example, dancing has become an interesting topic in aging research, as it is a popular leisure activity among older adults, involving cardiovascular and motor fitness dimensions that can be positively related to cognition. However, studies on brain structure are missing. In this study, we tested the association of long-term senior dance experience with cognitive performance and gray matter brain volume in older women aged 65 to 82 years. We compared nonprofessional senior dancers () with nonsedentary control group participants without any dancing experience (), who were similar in age, education, IQ score, lifestyle and health factors, and fitness level. Differences neither in the four tested cognitive domains (executive control, perceptual speed, episodic memory, and long-term memory) nor in brain volume (VBM whole-brain analysis, region-of-interest analysis of the hippocampus) were observed. Results indicate that moderate dancing activity (1-2 times per week, on average) has no additional effects on gray matter volume and cognitive functioning when a certain lifestyle or physical activity and fitness level are reached. Claudia Niemann, Ben Godde, and Claudia Voelcker-Rehage Copyright © 2016 Claudia Niemann et al. All rights reserved. Neurostimulation Thu, 22 Sep 2016 06:34:11 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/1830405/ Helena Knotkova, Michael A. Nitsche, and Volker Tronnier Copyright © 2016 Helena Knotkova et al. All rights reserved. Cochlear Synaptopathy and Noise-Induced Hidden Hearing Loss Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:24:47 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/6143164/ Recent studies on animal models have shown that noise exposure that does not lead to permanent threshold shift (PTS) can cause considerable damage around the synapses between inner hair cells (IHCs) and type-I afferent auditory nerve fibers (ANFs). Disruption of these synapses not only disables the innervated ANFs but also results in the slow degeneration of spiral ganglion neurons if the synapses are not reestablished. Such a loss of ANFs should result in signal coding deficits, which are exacerbated by the bias of the damage toward synapses connecting low-spontaneous-rate (SR) ANFs, which are known to be vital for signal coding in noisy background. As there is no PTS, these functional deficits cannot be detected using routine audiological evaluations and may be unknown to subjects who have them. Such functional deficits in hearing without changes in sensitivity are generally called “noise-induced hidden hearing loss (NIHHL).” Here, we provide a brief review to address several critical issues related to NIHHL: (1) the mechanism of noise induced synaptic damage, (2) reversibility of the synaptic damage, (3) the functional deficits as the nature of NIHHL in animal studies, (4) evidence of NIHHL in human subjects, and (5) peripheral and central contribution of NIHHL. Lijuan Shi, Ying Chang, Xiaowei Li, Steve Aiken, Lijie Liu, and Jian Wang Copyright © 2016 Lijuan Shi et al. All rights reserved. Safety Needs Mediate Stressful Events Induced Mental Disorders Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:28:48 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/8058093/ “Safety first,” we say these words almost every day, but we all take this for granted for what Maslow proposed in his famous theory of Hierarchy of Needs: safety needs come second to physiological needs. Here we propose that safety needs come before physiological needs. Safety needs are personal security, financial security, and health and well-being, which are more fundamental than physiological needs. Safety worrying is the major reason for mental disorders, such as anxiety, phobia, depression, and PTSD. The neural basis for safety is amygdala, LC/NE system, and corticotrophin-releasing hormone system, which can be regarded as a “safety circuitry,” whose major behavior function is “fight or flight” and “fear and anger” emotions. This is similar to the Appraisal theory for emotions: fear is due to the primary appraisal, which is related to safety of individual, while anger is due to secondary appraisal, which is related to coping with the unsafe situations. If coping is good, the individual will be happy; if coping failed, the individual will be sad or depressed. Zheng Zheng, Simeng Gu, Yu Lei, Shanshan Lu, Wei Wang, Yang Li, and Fushun Wang Copyright © 2016 Zheng Zheng et al. All rights reserved. Electroacupuncture Exerts Neuroprotection through Caveolin-1 Mediated Molecular Pathway in Intracerebral Hemorrhage of Rats Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:47:22 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/7308261/ Spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is one of the most devastating types of stroke. Here, we aim to demonstrate that electroacupuncture on Baihui (GV20) exerts neuroprotection for acute ICH possibly via the caveolin-1/matrix metalloproteinase/blood-brain barrier permeability pathway. The model of ICH was established by using collagenase VII. Rats were randomly divided into three groups: Sham-operation group, Sham electroacupuncture group, and electroacupuncture group. Each group was further divided into 4 subgroups according to the time points of 6 h, 1 d, 3 d, and 7 d after ICH. The methods were used including examination of neurological deficit scores according to Longa’s scale, measurement of blood-brain barrier permeability through Evans Blue content, in situ immunofluorescent detection of caveolin-1 in brains, western blot analysis of caveolin-1 in brains, and in situ zymography for measuring matrix metalloproteinase-2/9 activity in brains. Compared with Sham electroacupuncture group, electroacupuncture group has resulted in a significant improvement in neurological deficit scores and in a reduction in Evans Blue content, expression of caveolin-1, and activity of matrix metalloproteinase-2/9 at 6 h, 1 d, 3 d, and 7 d after ICH (). In conclusion, the present results suggested that electroacupuncture on GV20 can improve neurological deficit scores and reduce blood-brain barrier permeability after ICH, and the mechanism possibly targets caveolin-1/matrix metalloproteinase/blood-brain barrier permeability pathway. Hui-Qin Li, Yan Li, Zi-Xian Chen, Xiao-Guang Zhang, Xia-wei Zheng, Wen-ting Yang, Shuang Chen, and Guo-Qing Zheng Copyright © 2016 Hui-Qin Li et al. All rights reserved. Training-Specific Neural Plasticity in Spinal Reflexes after Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:46:40 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/6718763/ The neural plasticity of spinal reflexes after two contrasting forms of walking training was determined in individuals with chronic, motor-incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI). Endurance Training involved treadmill walking for as long as possible, and Precision Training involved walking precisely over obstacles and onto targets overground. Twenty participants started either Endurance or Precision Training for 2 months and then crossed over after a 2-month rest period to the other form of training for 2 months. Measures were taken before and after each phase of training and rest. The cutaneomuscular reflex (CMR) during walking was evoked in the soleus (SOL) and tibialis anterior muscles by stimulating the posterior tibial nerve at the ankle. Clonus was estimated from the EMG power in the SOL during unperturbed walking. The inhibitory component of the SOL CMR was enhanced after Endurance but not Precision Training. Clonus did not change after either form of training. Participants with lower reflex excitability tended to be better walkers (i.e., faster walking speeds) prior to training, and the reduction in clonus was significantly correlated with the improvement in walking speed and distance. Thus, reflex excitability responded in a training-specific way, with the reduction in reflex excitability related to improvements in walking function. Trial registration number is NCT01765153. Atif S. Khan, Susan K. Patrick, Francois D. Roy, Monica A. Gorassini, and Jaynie F. Yang Copyright © 2016 Atif S. Khan et al. All rights reserved. Shuyu Capsules Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome Depression by Reducing and Expression in the Rat Brain Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:36:27 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/7950781/ The effects of the Shuyu capsule on and expression in a rat model of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) depression and on and expression and hippocampal neuron 5-HT3 channel current were investigated, to elucidate its mechanism of action against PMS depression. PMS depression model rats were divided into depression and Shuyu- and fluoxetine-treated groups, which were compared to control rats for frontal lobe and hippocampal and expression and behavior. The depressed model rats displayed symptoms of depression, which were reduced in treated and normal control rats. Frontal lobe and hippocampal and levels were significantly higher in the model versus the control group and were significantly lower in the Shuyu group. As compared to control rats, the 5-HT3R channel current in the model group was significantly higher; the 5-HT3R channel current in hippocampal neurons treated with serum from Shuyu group rats was significantly lower than that in those treated with model group serum. Thus, PMS depression may be related to and expression and increased 5-HT3 channel current. Shuyu capsules rectified abnormal and expression and 5-HT3 channel current changes in a rat model; this finding may provide insight into treating PMS depression. Fang Li, Jizhen Feng, Dongmei Gao, Jieqiong Wang, Chunhong Song, Sheng Wei, and Mingqi Qiao Copyright © 2016 Fang Li et al. All rights reserved. Gene × Environment Interactions in Schizophrenia: Evidence from Genetic Mouse Models Tue, 20 Sep 2016 07:51:35 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/2173748/ The study of gene × environment, as well as epistatic interactions in schizophrenia, has provided important insight into the complex etiopathologic basis of schizophrenia. It has also increased our understanding of the role of susceptibility genes in the disorder and is an important consideration as we seek to translate genetic advances into novel antipsychotic treatment targets. This review summarises data arising from research involving the modelling of gene × environment interactions in schizophrenia using preclinical genetic models. Evidence for synergistic effects on the expression of schizophrenia-relevant endophenotypes will be discussed. It is proposed that valid and multifactorial preclinical models are important tools for identifying critical areas, as well as underlying mechanisms, of convergence of genetic and environmental risk factors, and their interaction in schizophrenia. Paula Moran, Jennifer Stokes, Julia Marr, Gavin Bock, Lieve Desbonnet, John Waddington, and Colm O’Tuathaigh Copyright © 2016 Paula Moran et al. All rights reserved. Spinal Plasticity and Behavior: BDNF-Induced Neuromodulation in Uninjured and Injured Spinal Cord Mon, 19 Sep 2016 10:52:46 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/9857201/ Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a member of the neurotrophic factor family of signaling molecules. Since its discovery over three decades ago, BDNF has been identified as an important regulator of neuronal development, synaptic transmission, and cellular and synaptic plasticity and has been shown to function in the formation and maintenance of certain forms of memory. Neural plasticity that underlies learning and memory in the hippocampus shares distinct characteristics with spinal cord nociceptive plasticity. Research examining the role BDNF plays in spinal nociception and pain overwhelmingly suggests that BDNF promotes pronociceptive effects. BDNF induces synaptic facilitation and engages central sensitization-like mechanisms. Also, peripheral injury-induced neuropathic pain is often accompanied with increased spinal expression of BDNF. Research has extended to examine how spinal cord injury (SCI) influences BDNF plasticity and the effects BDNF has on sensory and motor functions after SCI. Functional recovery and adaptive plasticity after SCI are typically associated with upregulation of BDNF. Although neuropathic pain is a common consequence of SCI, the relation between BDNF and pain after SCI remains elusive. This article reviews recent literature and discusses the diverse actions of BDNF. We also highlight similarities and differences in BDNF-induced nociceptive plasticity in naïve and SCI conditions. Sandra M. Garraway and J. Russell Huie Copyright © 2016 Sandra M. Garraway and J. Russell Huie. All rights reserved. Environmental Enrichment Therapy for Autism: Outcomes with Increased Access Sun, 18 Sep 2016 14:28:18 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/2734915/ We have previously shown in two randomized clinical trials that environmental enrichment is capable of ameliorating symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and in the present study, we determined whether this therapy could be effective under real-world circumstances. 1,002 children were given daily Sensory Enrichment Therapy, by their parents, using personalized therapy instructions given over the Internet. Parents were asked to assess the symptoms of their child every 2 weeks for up to 7 months. An intention-to-treat analysis showed significant overall gains for a wide range of symptoms in these children, including learning, memory, anxiety, attention span, motor skills, eating, sleeping, sensory processing, self-awareness, communication, social skills, and mood/autism behaviors. The children of compliant caregivers were more likely to experience a significant improvement in their symptoms. The treatment was effective across a wide age range and there was equal progress reported for males and females, for USA and international subjects, for those who paid and those who did not pay for the therapy, and for individuals at all levels of initial symptom severity. Environmental enrichment, delivered via an online system, therefore appears to be an effective, low-cost means of treating the symptoms of ASD. Eyal Aronoff, Robert Hillyer, and Michael Leon Copyright © 2016 Eyal Aronoff et al. All rights reserved. Corrigendum to “Closely Spaced MEG Source Localization and Functional Connectivity Analysis Using a New Prewhitening Invariance of Noise Space Algorithm” Wed, 14 Sep 2016 09:29:10 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/7473217/ Junpeng Zhang, Yuan Cui, Lihua Deng, Ling He, Junran Zhang, Jing Zhang, Qun Zhou, Qi Liu, and Zhiguo Zhang Copyright © 2016 Junpeng Zhang et al. All rights reserved. Prisms to Shift Pain Away: Pathophysiological and Therapeutic Exploration of CRPS with Prism Adaptation Wed, 07 Sep 2016 11:18:27 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/1694256/ Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is an invalidating chronic condition subsequent to peripheral lesions. There is growing consensus for a central contribution to CRPS. However, the nature of this central body representation disorder is increasingly debated. Although it has been repeatedly argued that CRPS results in motor neglect of the affected side, visual egocentric reference frame was found to be deviated toward the pain, that is, neglect of the healthy side. Accordingly, prism adaptation has been successfully used to normalize this deviation. This study aimed at clarifying whether 7 CRPS patients exhibited neglect as well as exploring the pathophysiological mechanisms of this manifestation and of the therapeutic effects of prism adaptation. Pain and quality of life, egocentric reference frames (visual and proprioceptive straight-ahead), and neglect tests (line bisection, kinematic analyses of motor neglect and motor extinction) were repeatedly assessed prior to, during, and following a one-week intense prism adaptation intervention. First, our results provide no support for visual and motor neglect in CRPS. Second, reference frames for body representations were not systematically deviated. Third, intensive prism adaptation intervention durably ameliorated pain and quality of life. As for spatial neglect, understanding the therapeutic effects of prism adaptation deserves further investigations. Laure Christophe, Eric Chabanat, Ludovic Delporte, Patrice Revol, Pierre Volckmann, Sophie Jacquin-Courtois, and Yves Rossetti Copyright © 2016 Laure Christophe et al. All rights reserved. Wnt5a Increases the Glycolytic Rate and the Activity of the Pentose Phosphate Pathway in Cortical Neurons Mon, 05 Sep 2016 06:42:43 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/9839348/ In the last few years, several reports have proposed that Wnt signaling is a general metabolic regulator, suggesting a role for this pathway in the control of metabolic flux. Wnt signaling is critical for several neuronal functions, but little is known about the correlation between this pathway and energy metabolism. The brain has a high demand for glucose, which is mainly used for energy production. Neurons use energy for highly specific processes that require a high energy level, such as maintaining the electrical potential and synthesizing neurotransmitters. Moreover, an important metabolic impairment has been described in all neurodegenerative disorders. Despite the key role of glucose metabolism in the brain, little is known about the cellular pathways involved in regulating this process. We report here that Wnt5a induces an increase in glucose uptake and glycolytic rate and an increase in the activity of the pentose phosphate pathway; the effects of Wnt5a require the intracellular generation of nitric oxide. Our data suggest that Wnt signaling stimulates neuronal glucose metabolism, an effect that could be important for the reported neuroprotective role of Wnt signaling in neurodegenerative disorders. Pedro Cisternas, Paulina Salazar, Carmen Silva-Álvarez, L. Felipe Barros, and Nibaldo C. Inestrosa Copyright © 2016 Pedro Cisternas et al. All rights reserved. Kinematic and EMG Responses to Pelvis and Leg Assistance Force during Treadmill Walking in Children with Cerebral Palsy Mon, 29 Aug 2016 06:58:18 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/5020348/ Treadmill training has been used for improving locomotor function in children with cerebral palsy (CP), but the functional gains are relatively small, suggesting a need to improve current paradigms. The understanding of the kinematic and EMG responses to forces applied to the body of subjects during treadmill walking is crucial for improving current paradigms. The objective of this study was to determine the kinematics and EMG responses to the pelvis and/or leg assistance force. Ten children with spastic CP were recruited to participate in this study. A controlled assistance force was applied to the pelvis and/or legs during stance and swing phase of gait through a custom designed robotic system during walking. Muscle activities and spatial-temporal gait parameters were measured at different loading conditions during walking. In addition, the spatial-temporal gait parameters during overground walking before and after treadmill training were also collected. Applying pelvis assistance improved step height and applying leg assistance improved step length during walking, but applying leg assistance also reduced muscle activation of ankle flexor during the swing phase of gait. In addition, step length and self-selected walking speed significantly improved after one session of treadmill training with combined pelvis and leg assistance. Ming Wu, Janis Kim, Pooja Arora, Deborah J. Gaebler-Spira, and Yunhui Zhang Copyright © 2016 Ming Wu et al. All rights reserved. Brain Responses during the Anticipation of Dyspnea Sun, 28 Aug 2016 11:28:26 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/6434987/ Dyspnea is common in many cardiorespiratory diseases. Already the anticipation of this aversive symptom elicits fear in many patients resulting in unfavorable health behaviors such as activity avoidance and sedentary lifestyle. This study investigated brain mechanisms underlying these anticipatory processes. We induced dyspnea using resistive-load breathing in healthy subjects during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Blocks of severe and mild dyspnea alternated, each preceded by anticipation periods. Severe dyspnea activated a network of sensorimotor, cerebellar, and limbic areas. The left insular, parietal opercular, and cerebellar cortices showed increased activation already during dyspnea anticipation. Left insular and parietal opercular cortex showed increased connectivity with right insular and anterior cingulate cortex when severe dyspnea was anticipated, while the cerebellum showed increased connectivity with the amygdala. Notably, insular activation during dyspnea perception was positively correlated with midbrain activation during anticipation. Moreover, anticipatory fear was positively correlated with anticipatory activation in right insular and anterior cingulate cortex. The results demonstrate that dyspnea anticipation activates brain areas involved in dyspnea perception. The involvement of emotion-related areas such as insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and amygdala during dyspnea anticipation most likely reflects anticipatory fear and might underlie the development of unfavorable health behaviors in patients suffering from dyspnea. M. Cornelia Stoeckel, Roland W. Esser, Matthias Gamer, Christian Büchel, and Andreas von Leupoldt Copyright © 2016 M. Cornelia Stoeckel et al. All rights reserved. Progressive FastICA Peel-Off and Convolution Kernel Compensation Demonstrate High Agreement for High Density Surface EMG Decomposition Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:37:35 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/3489540/ Decomposition of electromyograms (EMG) is a key approach to investigating motor unit plasticity. Various signal processing techniques have been developed for high density surface EMG decomposition, among which the convolution kernel compensation (CKC) has achieved high decomposition yield with extensive validation. Very recently, a progressive FastICA peel-off (PFP) framework has also been developed for high density surface EMG decomposition. In this study, the CKC and PFP methods were independently applied to decompose the same sets of high density surface EMG signals. Across 91 trials of 64-channel surface EMG signals recorded from the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle of 9 neurologically intact subjects, there were a total of 1477 motor units identified from the two methods, including 969 common motor units. On average, common motor units were identified from each trial, which showed a very high matching rate of % in their discharge instants. The high degree of agreement of common motor units from the CKC and the PFP processing provides supportive evidence of the decomposition accuracy for both methods. The different motor units obtained from each method also suggest that combination of the two methods may have the potential to further increase the decomposition yield. Maoqi Chen, Ales Holobar, Xu Zhang, and Ping Zhou Copyright © 2016 Maoqi Chen et al. All rights reserved. Mirror Visual Feedback Training Improves Intermanual Transfer in a Sport-Specific Task: A Comparison between Different Skill Levels Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:59:52 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/8628039/ Mirror training therapy is a promising tool to initiate neural plasticity and facilitate the recovery process of motor skills after diseases such as stroke or hemiparesis by improving the intermanual transfer of fine motor skills in healthy people as well as in patients. This study evaluated whether these augmented performance improvements by mirror visual feedback (MVF) could be used for learning a sport-specific skill and if the effects are modulated by skill level. A sample of 39 young, healthy, and experienced basketball and handball players and 41 novices performed a stationary basketball dribble task at a mirror box in a standing position and received either MVF or direct feedback. After four training days using only the right hand, performance of both hands improved from pre- to posttest measurements. Only the left hand (untrained) performance of the experienced participants receiving MVF was more pronounced than for the control group. This indicates that intermanual motor transfer can be improved by MVF in a sport-specific task. However, this effect cannot be generalized to motor learning per se since it is modulated by individuals’ skill level, a factor that might be considered in mirror therapy research. Fabian Steinberg, Nils Henrik Pixa, and Michael Doppelmayr Copyright © 2016 Fabian Steinberg et al. All rights reserved. Direct Spinal Ventral Root Repair following Avulsion: Effectiveness of a New Heterologous Fibrin Sealant on Motoneuron Survival and Regeneration Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:43:36 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/2932784/ Axonal injuries at the interface between central and peripheral nervous system, such as ventral root avulsion (VRA), induce important degenerative processes, mostly resulting in neuronal and motor function loss. In the present work, we have compared two different fibrin sealants, one derived from human blood and another derived from animal blood and Crotalus durissus terrificus venom, as a promising treatment for this type of injury. Lewis rats were submitted to VRA (L4–L6) and had the avulsed roots reimplanted to the surface of the spinal cord, with the aid of fibrin sealant. The spinal cords were processed to evaluate neuronal survival, synaptic stability, and glial reactivity, 4 and 12 weeks after lesion. Sciatic nerves were processed to investigate Schwann cell activity by expression (4 weeks after surgery) and to count myelinated axons and morphometric evaluation (12 weeks after surgery). Walking track test was used to evaluate gait recovery, up to 12 weeks. The results indicate that both fibrin sealants are similarly efficient. However, the snake-derived fibrin glue is a potentially safer alternative for being a biological and biodegradable product which does not contain human blood derivatives. Therefore, the venom glue can be a useful tool for the scientific community due to its advantages and variety of applications. Mateus Vidigal de Castro, Roberta Barbizan, Rui Seabra Ferreira Jr., Benedito Barraviera, and Alexandre Leite Rodrigues de Oliveira Copyright © 2016 Mateus Vidigal de Castro et al. All rights reserved. Stepping in Place While Voluntarily Turning Around Produces a Long-Lasting Posteffect Consisting in Inadvertent Turning While Stepping Eyes Closed Mon, 22 Aug 2016 08:52:42 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/7123609/ Training subjects to step in place on a rotating platform while maintaining a fixed body orientation in space produces a posteffect consisting in inadvertent turning around while stepping in place eyes closed (podokinetic after-rotation, PKAR). We tested the hypothesis that voluntary turning around while stepping in place also produces a posteffect similar to PKAR. Sixteen subjects performed 12 min of voluntary turning while stepping around their vertical axis eyes closed and 12 min of stepping in place eyes open on the center of a platform rotating at 60°/s (pretests). Then, subjects continued stepping in place eyes closed for at least 10 min (posteffect). We recorded the positions of markers fixed to head, shoulder, and feet. The posteffect of voluntary turning shared all features of PKAR. Time decay of angular velocity, stepping cadence, head acceleration, and ratio of angular velocity after to angular velocity before were similar between both protocols. Both postrotations took place inadvertently. The posteffects are possibly dependent on the repeated voluntary contraction of leg and foot intrarotating pelvic muscles that rotate the trunk over the stance foot, a synergy common to both protocols. We propose that stepping in place and voluntary turning can be a scheme ancillary to the rotating platform for training body segment coordination in patients with impairment of turning synergies of various origin. Stefania Sozzi and Marco Schieppati Copyright © 2016 Stefania Sozzi and Marco Schieppati. All rights reserved. Role of Spindle Oscillations across Lifespan in Health and Disease Thu, 18 Aug 2016 16:02:53 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/8103439/ Julie Seibt, Igor Timofeev, Julie Carrier, and Adrien Peyrache Copyright © 2016 Julie Seibt et al. All rights reserved. Role of NMDA Receptor-Mediated Glutamatergic Signaling in Chronic and Acute Neuropathologies Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:54:02 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/2701526/ N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) have two opposing roles in the brain. On the one hand, NMDARs control critical events in the formation and development of synaptic organization and synaptic plasticity. On the other hand, the overactivation of NMDARs can promote neuronal death in neuropathological conditions. Ca2+ influx acts as a primary modulator after NMDAR channel activation. An imbalance in Ca2+ homeostasis is associated with several neurological diseases including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These chronic conditions have a lengthy progression depending on internal and external factors. External factors such as acute episodes of brain damage are associated with an earlier onset of several of these chronic mental conditions. Here, we will review some of the current evidence of how traumatic brain injury can hasten the onset of several neurological conditions, focusing on the role of NMDAR distribution and the functional consequences in calcium homeostasis associated with synaptic dysfunction and neuronal death present in this group of chronic diseases. Francisco J. Carvajal, Hayley A. Mattison, and Waldo Cerpa Copyright © 2016 Francisco J. Carvajal et al. All rights reserved. Plasticity and Awareness of Bodily Distortion Thu, 18 Aug 2016 11:55:02 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/9834340/ Knowledge of the body is filtered by perceptual information, recalibrated through predominantly innate stored information, and neurally mediated by direct sensory motor information. Despite multiple sources, the immediate prediction, construction, and evaluation of one’s body are distorted. The origins of such distortions are unclear. In this review, we consider three possible sources of awareness that inform body distortion. First, the precision in the body metric may be based on the sight and positioning sense of a particular body segment. This view provides information on the dual nature of body representation, the reliability of a conscious body image, and implicit alterations in the metrics and positional correspondence of body parts. Second, body awareness may reflect an innate organizational experience of unity and continuity in the brain, with no strong isomorphism to body morphology. Third, body awareness may be based on efferent/afferent neural signals, suggesting that major body distortions may result from changes in neural sensorimotor experiences. All these views can be supported empirically, suggesting that body awareness is synthesized from multimodal integration and the temporal constancy of multiple body representations. For each of these views, we briefly discuss abnormalities and therapeutic strategies for correcting the bodily distortions in various clinical disorders. Mariella Pazzaglia and Marta Zantedeschi Copyright © 2016 Mariella Pazzaglia and Marta Zantedeschi. All rights reserved. Neuromuscular Plasticity: Disentangling Stable and Variable Motor Maps in the Human Sensorimotor Cortex Tue, 16 Aug 2016 16:16:38 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/7365609/ Motor maps acquired with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are evolving as a biomarker for monitoring disease progression or the effects of therapeutic interventions. High test-retest reliability of this technique for long observation periods is therefore required to differentiate daily or weekly fluctuations from stable plastic reorganization of corticospinal connectivity. In this study, a novel projection, interpolation, and coregistration technique, which considers the individual gyral anatomy, was applied in healthy subjects for biweekly acquired TMS motor maps over a period of twelve weeks. The intraclass correlation coefficient revealed long-term reliability of motor maps with relevant interhemispheric differences. The sensorimotor cortex and nonprimary motor areas of the dominant hemisphere showed more extended and more stable corticospinal connectivity. Long-term correlations of the MEP amplitudes at each stimulation site revealed mosaic-like clusters of consistent corticospinal excitability. The resting motor threshold, centre of gravity, and mean MEPs across all TMS sites, as highly reliable cortical map parameters, could be disentangled from more variable parameters such as MEP area and volume. Cortical TMS motor maps provide high test-retest reliability for long-term monitoring when analyzed with refined techniques. They may guide restorative interventions which target dormant corticospinal connectivity for neurorehabilitation. Dominic Kraus and Alireza Gharabaghi Copyright © 2016 Dominic Kraus and Alireza Gharabaghi. All rights reserved. Effects of Electroacupuncture at Governor Vessel Acupoints on Neurotrophin-3 in Rats with Experimental Spinal Cord Injury Thu, 11 Aug 2016 12:36:33 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/2371875/ In an effort to explore new, noninvasive treatment options for spinal cord injuries (SCI), this study investigated the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) for SCI rat models. SCI was induced by a modified Allen’s weight-drop method. We investigated the response of EA at Dazhui (GV 14) and Mingmen (GV 4) acupoints to understand the effects and mechanisms of EA in neuroprotection and neuronal function recovery after SCI. BBB testing was used to detect motor function of rats’ hind limbs among groups, and EA was shown to promote the recovery of SCI rats’ motor function. Nissl staining showed a restored neural morphology and an increase in the quantity of neurons after EA. Also, the antiapoptosis role was exposed by TUNEL staining. Western blotting analysis was used to determine the protein expression of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) in spinal cord tissue. Compared to the sham group, the expression levels of NT-3 were significantly decreased and EA was shown to upregulate the expression of NT-3. The present study suggests that the role of EA in neuroprotection and dorsal neuronal function recovery after SCI in rats, especially EA stimulation at GV 14 and GV 4, can greatly promote neuronal function recovery, which may result from upregulating the expression of NT-3. Yu-ping Mo, Hai-jiang Yao, Wei Lv, Liang-yu Song, Hong-tao Song, Xiao-chen Yuan, Ying-qiu Mao, Quan-kai Jing, Su-hua Shi, and Zhi-gang Li Copyright © 2016 Yu-ping Mo et al. All rights reserved. MicroRNA-132 Interact with p250GAP/Cdc42 Pathway in the Hippocampal Neuronal Culture Model of Acquired Epilepsy and Associated with Epileptogenesis Process Mon, 08 Aug 2016 11:04:43 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2016/5108489/ Increasing evidence suggests that epilepsy is the result of synaptic reorganization and pathological excitatory loop formation in the central nervous system; however, the mechanisms that regulate this process are not well understood. We proposed that microRNA-132 (miR-132) and p250GAP might play important roles in this process by activating the downstream Rho GTPase family. We tested this hypothesis using a magnesium-free medium-induced epileptic model of cultured hippocampal neurons. We investigated whether miR-132 regulates GTPase activity through p250GAP and found that Cdc42 was significantly activated in our experimental model. Silencing miR-132 inhibited the electrical excitability level of cultured epileptic neurons, whereas silencing p250GAP had an opposite effect. In addition, we verified the effect of miR-132 in vivo and found that silencing miR-132 inhibited the aberrant formation of dendritic spines and chronic spontaneous seizure in a lithium-pilocarpine-induced epileptic mouse model. Finally, we confirmed that silencing miR-132 has a neuroprotective effect on cultured epileptic neurons; however, this effect did not occur through the p250GAP pathway. Generally, silencing miR-132 may suppress spontaneous seizure activity through the miR-132/p250GAP/Cdc42 pathway by regulating the morphology and electrophysiology of dendritic spines; therefore, miR-132 may serve as a potential target for the development of antiepileptic drugs. Jinxian Yuan, Hao Huang, Xin Zhou, Xi Liu, Shu Ou, Tao Xu, Ruohan Li, Limin Ma, and Yangmei Chen Copyright © 2016 Jinxian Yuan et al. All rights reserved.