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González-Gadea ML, Ibanez A, Juliane D, Ramirez Romero D, Abrevaya S, Manes F, Richly P, Roca M.  Different levels of implicit emotional recognition in Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA). Neurocase 2014

Previous single-case reports in Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) have shown preserved non-conscious visual recognition despite the absence of explicit recognition. In this study we investigated three levels of visual recognition in both a female patient with PCA and a control group during the presentation of neutral, positive, and negative affective stimuli. Our results confirmed the profile of impaired explicit recognition and intact psychophysiological responses in the patient. In addition, she was able to implicitly recognize the valence and intensity of arousal of these stimuli. We suggest that implicit emotional awareness may mediates explicit and psychophysiological recognition in PCA.

Torrente F, Pose M, Gleichgerrcht E, Torralva T, López PL, Cetkovich M, Manes F.  Personality Changes in Dementia: Are They Disease Specific and Universal? Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders 2014 10.1177/1087054712443153

Previous studies about personality changes in dementia suggest that they may be due to the disruption of the biological basis of personality traits, and hence, that they are disease specific and universal. However, evidence about its specificity is still limited and scarce regarding culturally diverse populations. Accordingly, our aim was to compare personality changes in Argentinean patients with Alzheimer disease, behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia, and primary progressive aphasia. The closest living relatives of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer disease (n=19), behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (n=16), and primary progressive aphasia (n=15) were asked to complete 2 versions of the personality inventory NEO Personality Inventory-Revised, one for assessing patients’ premorbid personality traits, and the other for assessing current traits. All groups showed changes in several domains and facets of the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised. Globally, the observed pattern of changes was fairly consistent with previous studies based on the same model of personality. Nevertheless, our results regarding disease-specificity were less conclusive. Even if there were some indicators of specific differences between groups, most traits varied similarly across the 3 groups, revealing a pattern of generalized changes in personality expression after illness onset. More studies are needed that help to distinguish real personality changes from other affective or cognitive symptoms that accompany dementia, as well as further data from culturally diverse populations.

Ibanez A, Kochen S, Barret L., Moll J., Ruz M. Situated affective and social neuroscience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2014

This Research Topic features several papers tapping the situated nature of emotion and social cognition processes. The volume covers a broad scope of methodologies [behavioral assessment, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural neuroimaging, event-related potentials (ERPs), brain connectivity, and peripheral measures], populations (non-human animals, neurotypical participants, developmental studies, and neuropsychiatric and pathological conditions), and article types (original research, review papers, and opinion articles). Through this wide-ranging proposal, we introduce a fresh approach to the study of contextual effects in emotion and social cognition domains. We report four levels of evidence. First, we present studies examining how cognitive and neural functions are influenced by basic affective processes (interoception, motivation and reward, emotional impulsiveness, and appraisal of violent stimuli). A second set of behavioral and neuroscientific studies addresses how performance is modulated by different emotional variables (categorical and dimensional approaches to emotion, language-as-context for emotion, emotional suppression of the attentional blink, and reappraisal effects on the up-regulation of emotions). The studies in our third selection deal with different influences in social cognition (SC) domains (human and non-human comparative studies, long-term effects of social and physical stress, developmental theory of mind, neural bases of passionate love for others, social decision making in normal and psychopathic participants, and frontal lobe contributions to psychosocial adaptation models). Finally, the fourth set of papers investigates the blending of social and emotion-related processes (valence and social salience in amygdala networks, emotional contributions to identification of genuine and faked social expressions, emotional predispositions and social decision making bias, valence of fairness and social decisions, structural neuroimaging of emotional and social impairments in neurodegenerative diseases, and subjective reactivity to emotional stimuli and their association with moral cognition). A brief summary of all these studies is offered in the following sections.

Kargieman L, Herrera E, Báez S, García A, Dottori M, Gelormini C, Manes F, Gershanik O, Ibanez A.  Motor-language coupling in Huntington’s disease families. Frontiers in Aging Neurocience 2014

Traditionally, Huntington´s disease (HD) has been known as a movement disorder, characterized by motor, psychiatric, and cognitive impairments. Recent studies have shown that motor and action–language processes are neurally associated. The cognitive mechanisms underlying this interaction have been investigated through the action compatibility effect (ACE) paradigm, which induces a contextual coupling of ongoing motor actions and verbal processing. The present study is the first to use the ACE paradigm to evaluate action–word processing in HD patients (HDP) and their families. Specifically, we tested three groups: HDP, healthy first-degree relatives (HDR), and non-relative healthy controls. The results showed that ACE was abolished in HDP as well as HDR, but not in controls. Furthermore, we found that the processing deficits were primarily linguistic, given that they did not correlate executive function measurements. Our overall results underscore the role of cortico-basal ganglia circuits in action–word processing and indicate that the ACE task is a sensitive and robust early biomarker of HD and familial vulnerability.

Cardona JF, Kargieman L, Sinay V, Gershanik O, Gelormini C, Roca M, Bekinschtein T, Amoruso L, Manes F, Ibanez A.  How embodied is action language? Neurological evidence from motor diseases. Cognition 2014

Although motor-language coupling is now being extensively studied, its underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. In this sense, a crucial opposition has emerged between the non-representational and the representational views of embodiment. The former posits that action language is grounded on the non-brain motor system directly engaged by musculoskeletal activity – i.e., peripheral involvement of ongoing actions. Conversely, the latter proposes that such grounding is afforded by the brain´s motor system – i.e., activation of neural areas representing motor action. We addressed this controversy through the action-sentence compatibility effect (ACE) paradigm, which induces a contextual coupling of motor actions and verbal processing. ACEs were measured in three patient groups – early Parkinson´s disease (EPD), neuromyelitis optica (NMO), and acute transverse myelitis (ATM) patients – as well as their respective healthy controls. NMO and ATM constitute models of injury to non-brain motor areas and the peripheral motor system, whereas EPD provides a model of brain motor system impairment. In our study, EPD patients exhibited impaired ACE and verbal processing relative to healthy participants, NMO, and ATM patients. These results indicate that the processing of action-related words is mainly subserved by a cortico-subcortical motor network system, thus supporting a brain-based embodied view on action language. More generally, our findings are consistent with contemporary perspectives for which action/verb processing depends on distributed brain networks supporting context-sensitive motor-language coupling.

Roca M, Manes F, Cetkovich M, Bruno D, Ibanez A, Torralva T,  Duncan J. The relationship between executive functions and fluid intelligence in schizophrenia. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2014

An enduring question is unity vs. separability of executive deficits resulting from impaired frontal lobe function. In previous studies, we have asked how executive deficits link to a conventional measure of fluid intelligence, obtained either by standard tests of novel problem-solving, or by averaging performance in a battery of novel tasks. For some classical executive tasks, such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Verbal Fluency, and Trail Making Test B (TMTB), frontal deficits are entirely explained by fluid intelligence. However, on a second set of executive tasks, including tests of multitasking and decision making, deficits exceed those predicted by fluid intelligence loss. In this paper we discuss how these results shed light on the diverse clinical phenomenology observed in frontal dysfunction, and present new data on a group of 15 schizophrenic patients and 14 controls. Subjects were assessed with a range of executive tests and with a general cognitive battery used to derive a measure of fluid intelligence. Group performance was compared and fluid intelligence was introduced as a covariate. In line with our previous results, significant patient-control differences in classical executive tests were removed when fluid intelligence was introduced as a covariate. However, for tests of multitasking and decision making, deficits remained. We relate our findings to those of previous factor analytic studies describing a single principal component, which accounts for much of the variance of schizophrenic patients’ cognitive performance. We propose that this general factor reflects low fluid intelligence capacity, which accounts for much but not all cognitive impairment in this patient group. Partialling out the general effects of fluid intelligence, we propose, may clarify the role of additional, more specific cognitive impairments in conditions such as schizophrenia.

Sedeño L, Couto JB, Melloni M, Canales-Johnson AF, Yoris A, Velásquez M, Barttfeld P, Sigman M, Kichic R, Bekinschtein T, Ibanez A.  How do you feel when you can’t feel your body?: Interoception, functional connectivity and emotional processing in Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder. PloS One 2014

Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder (DD) typically manifests as a disruption of body self-awareness. Interoception defined as the cognitive processing of body signals has been extensively considered as a key processing for body self-awareness. In consequence, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether there are systematic differences in interoception between a patient with DD and controls that might explain the disembodiment symptoms suffered in this disease. To assess interoception, we utilized a heartbeat detection task and measures of functional connectivity derived from fMRI networks in interoceptive/exteroceptivo/mind wandering states. Additionally, we evaluated empathic abilities to test the association between interoception and emotional experience. The results showed patient´s impaired performance in the heartbeat detection task when compared to controls. Furthermore, regarding functional connectivity, we found a lower global brain connectivity of the patient relative to controls only in the interoceptive state. He also presented a particular pattern of impairments in affective empathy. To our knowledge, this is the first experimental research that assesses the relationship between interoception and DD combining behavioral and neurobiological measures. Our results suggest that altered neural mechanisms and cognitive processes regarding body signaling might be engaged in DD phenomenology. Moreover, our study contributes experimental data to the comprehension of brain-body interactions and the emergence of self-awareness and emotional feelings.

Richly P, López PL, Gleichgerrcht E, Flinchtentrei D, Prats M, R Mastandueno, Bustin J, Cetkovich M.  Psychiatrists approach to vascular risk assessment in Latin America. World Journal of Psichiatry 2014

El articulo analiza a través de una encuesta a 1185 médicos generalistas y 792 psiquiatras latinoamericanos la diferencia en el abordaje en relación a los factores de riesgo vascular de estos profesionales de la salud ante pacientes en tratamiento con antipsicóticos.

Soto- Brandt G, Portilla Huidobro H, Huepe D, Rivera-Rei A, Escobar J, Salas Guzmán N, Canales-Johnson AF, Ibanez A, Martínez Guzmán C, Castillo-Carniglia A. Validity evidence of the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) in Chile Adicciones. 2014 10.1093/scan/nst108

En este trabajo analizamos la validez (fiabilidad y consistencia) de la versión español de Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) en una muestra de 400 usuarios de servicios de tratamiento drogas y alcohol ambulatorios y residenciales. La consistencia interna, el coeficiente de correlación intraclase (CCI) para la comparación test-retest y las pruebas de validación externa arrojaron valores adecuados, demostrando buenas propiedades psicomátricas del ASSIST.

Gelormini C, Almor A.  Singular and plural pronominal reference in Spanish. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 2014

In two self-paced, sentence-by-sentence reading experiments, we examined the difference in the processing of Spanish discourses containing overt and null pronouns. In both experiments, antecedents appeared in a single phrase (John met Mary) or in a conjoined phrase (John and Mary met). In Experiment 1, we compared reading times of sentences containing singular overt and null pronouns referring to the first or to the second mentioned antecedent. Overt pronouns caused a processing delay relative to null pronouns when they referred to the first antecedent in single but not in conjoined phrases. In Experiment 2, we compared reading times of sentences containing overt and null pronouns referring to singular or plural entities. Plural null pronouns were read faster than their singular counterparts in conjoined conditions. Plural overt pronouns were read more slowly than their null counterparts both in single and conjoined conditions. We explain our findings in a framework based on the notion of balance between processing cost and discourse function in line with the Informational Load Hypothesis.