A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Study of Type I Chiari Malformation

Event

Winter Conference on Brain Research 2017

Abstract

Type I Chiari malformation (CM) is a structural defect where part of the cerebellum is located below the foramen magnum. Characterized by NIH, individuals with CM may complain of neck pain, balance problems, muscle weakness, numbness in the arms or legs, dizziness or headache made worse by coughing or straining. Symptoms may change for some individuals, depending on the buildup of CSF and resulting pressure on the tissues and nerves. Thus, a basic understanding of the pathogenesis of CM has been elusive. Our group at the Conquer Chiari Research Center has been working towards a better understanding of CM through a multidisciplinary approach. The four areas of investigation are imaging, cognitive processes, psycho-social function, and assessments of the inflammatory response. We have developed projects to examine these four areas by creating a web-accessed, secure database called Chiari1000. Chiari1000 collects health-related, neuropsychological, and MR scans voluntarily provided by Chiari patients. Cognitive processes and psycho-social function are assessed through a series of web surveys. To assess the inflammatory response, blood assays are obtained through local Quest Diagnostics clinics, and saliva samples are provided through the mail. The Chiari1000 registry launched in the Fall 2015. Presently, 708 CMI participants have completed surveys (with 314 MR images). We hope to obtain 1000 CMI subjects with completed surveys and corresponding MRIs and the inflammatory response on 100 of these subjects. We have developed custom software for automated morphological measurements, data visualization, and analysis of these multidisciplinary results. This information may help to stratify CM patients which will help in the development of new hypotheses for this complex condition. The overall goal is to identify novel objective measures that are predictive of symptom severity to help in the diagnosis of CM and the evaluation of various treatment options.

Contributors

Francis Loth, James R. Houston, Dipankar Biswas, Soroush Pahlavian, Maggie Eppelheimer, Dorothy Loth, Richard Labuda, Philip A. Allen

Brain Morphometrics that Provide a Better Understanding of Chiari Type I Malformation

Event

Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference

Introduction Excerpt

Through examination of MR images, additional brain and cranial structures have been shown to differ significantly between CMI patients and healthy individuals. In previous studies, a reduced posterior cranial fossa (PCF) is the principal attribute of CMI [3]. Yet, other studies did not find a relationship between PCF area and CMI [4].

The main objective for this study was to determine additional parameters aside from TP that differentiate between CMI patients and healthy controls, with the potential to improve diagnosis and prognosis of this disorder. A subset of these parameters located within the PCF compartment will be discussed within this abstract..

Contributors

Maggie S. Eppelheimer, James R. Houston, Soroush H. Pahlavian, Audrey M. Braun, Dipankar Biswas, Dorothy M. Loth, Aintzane Urbizu, Richard Labuda, Philip A. Allen, Francis Loth

Morphometric Analysis of Cerebellum in Type 1 Chiari Malformation

Event

Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference 2017

Introduction Excerpt

Type I Chiari malformation (CMI) is a neurological disorder of the hindbrain in which the position of cerebellum is lower in the brain which could serve as an obstruction to cerebrospinal fluid motion. CMI patients present a wide range of symptoms that can vary from pain in the head and neck, dizziness or impaired cognitive functions. It is radiologically identified by the position of the cerebellar tonsils to be three to five millimeters below the foramen magnum. The goal of the present study is to determine what cerebellum morphometric parameters beyond the tonsillar herniation are different for CMI patients as compared to healthy controls..

Contributors

Dipankar Biswas, Maggie. S. Eppelheimer, James R. Houston, Audrey Braun, Richard Labuda, Francis Loth

Alexithymia in Men? An Electrophysiological Investigation of Emotional Processing

Event

Psychonomics Society Annual Meeting 2016

Abstract

The Normative Male Alexithymia Hypothesis proposes that men may have more difficulty in displaying emotion—especially vulnerable emotions such as fear (Levant, 1992).  Specifically, Alexithymics may exhibit emotional recognition deficits—especially for angry faces (hypothesized to arouse fear) relative to happy faces.  Also, early repression (unconscious avoidance) and later suppression (conscious avoidance) loci were assessed using P1 and P3 (measured 100-200 and 400-700 ms after stimulus presentation, respectively) event-related potentials (ERPs). We tested 15 male subjects who scored above the90th percentile rank on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and 15 male controls with average scores, on a facial emotion recognition task (happy, angry or neutral ).  The ERP results indicated that individuals who scored high on the TAS-20 showed significantly lower P1 and P3 amplitudes on all emotional faces than those individuals who scored in the average range.  Also, the control group showed relatively higher amplitudes for negatively valenced stimuli than for neutral stimuli, whereas the “Alexithymic” group showed the reverse trend.  This suggests that Alexithymic symptomology may stem from both early (perceptual) and later (cognitive) inhibition of vulnerable emotions.

Contributors

Elliott Jardin, Philip A. Allen, Ronald F. Levant, Mei-Ching Lien, Erik McCurdy, Anthony Villalba, James R. Houston

Chiari Malformation and Hyper-Vigilance: An EEG Study

Event

Psychonomics Society Annual Meeting 2016

Abstract

We tested 15 Chiari patients and 12 controls on an attentional dual-task (Task 1: tone discrimination, Task 2: emotional face discrimination task using angry, happy, and neutral faces) that varied stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA: 100, 300, and 900 ms).  Chiari malformation Type I is a neurological syndrome in which the cerebellar tonsils descend into the cervical spine area resulting in cervicomedullary compression (i.e., the brainstem is compressed).  Common symptoms are chronic headaches and balance problems.  We collected P100 and P300 ERP components (measured from 100-200 ms, and 400-600 ms, respectively, after Stimulus 2 presentation) at electrode sites O1 and O2, and Pz, respectively.  We observed no group differences in either SOA (a measure of attentional capacity) or emotional valence.  However, Chiari patients showed significantly higher-amplitude P100 components (but not P300 components) than controls.  These results are consistent with a hyper-vigilance effect in the ventral attentional stream for the Chiari group.        

Contributors

James R. Houston, Philip A. Allen, Mark Luciano, Sarel Vorster, Francis Loth

Semi-automatic image processing of craniospinal morphometrics for Chiari malformation

Event

Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting 2016

Introduction Excerpt

Chiari Malformation Type I (CMI) is a neurological disorder, conventionally characterized by the cerebellar tonsillar descent at the base of the skull. Patients often experience pain as well as many other symptoms. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used to determine the cerebellar tonsillar position (CTP) and allows physicians to exclude other disorders as the cause of symptoms. The information obtained from MRIs in combination with patient symptomatology is the most commonly used approach for CMI diagnosis [1]. Recently, the impact of CTP, as a single morphometric parameter, on symptomatology and etiology of CMI has been questioned [2]. As such, determination of novel craniospinal morphometrics that are correlated with patients’ symptoms may result in a better understanding and a more accurate diagnosis of CMI. In this study, we examined size and shape of many structures within the intracranial portion of the brain, oral cavity, and upper vertebrae in a large database (Chiari1000) comprised of MR images and symptomatology of Chiari individuals and healthy controls..

Contributors

Maggie Eppelheimer, Aintzane Urbizu, James R. Houston, Soroush Heidari Pahlavian, Audrey Braun, Dipankar Biswas, Philip A. Allen, Rick Labuda, Francis Loth

Case mixing does not modulate the Stroop effect

Event

2016 Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Conference

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to understand word recognition by using a Stroop task with mixed-case words. Mixing word case did not effect the size of the Stroop effect in three experiments. Our results are consistent with a word recognition model that does not rely on word form, but rather on abstract content.

Contributors

James R. Houston, Ann C. Rossmiller, Philip A. Allen

Testing the Stroop Effect with Grayscale Stimulus Presentation

Event

2016 Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Conference

Abstract

In this study we use polychromatic and grayscale words to examine the influence of hue type on word recognition in the context of the Stroop task. Hue type did not influence the size of the Stroop effect, suggesting hue and meaning information were processed by separate word streams, regardless of color or grayscale stimulus set.

Contributors

Ann C. Rossmiller, James R. Houston, Philip A. Allen

An ERP investigation of age-related disruption of affective integration during the processing of emotional faces.

Event

2015 Psychonomic Society Annual Meeting

Abstract

Age differences in emotional processing have been attributed to bias in emotional regulation or a deficit in emotional arousal.  We examined neural correlates of facial emotion processing for emotional arousal and regulation using event-related potential (ERP) measures. Specifically, we examined ERP components reflecting attentional and face processing (P1, P3) at occipital and parietal regions. Both younger and older adults performed a face emotional discrimination task (neutral, happy, or angry).  

For early ERPs (100-200 ms; P1), younger adults showed a higher-amplitude for negatively-valenced faces relative to neutral faces. In contrast, older adults exhibited greater amplitude for neutral faces relative to positively-valenced faces. For late ERPs (400-600 ms; P3), age differences remained. Younger-adult ERP amplitudes were greater for negative relative to neutral faces while older adults showed no bias for any emotion. These results suggest both an attenuated early emotional arousal and later emotional regulation response for older adults in emotional processing. 

Contributors

James R. Houston, Joshua W. Pollock, Mei-Ching Lien, Philip A. Allen

Influence of Chiari Malformation I on Affective and Cognitive Performance.

Event

2014 Conquer Chiari Research Conference

Introduction

Dr. Phil Allen, from the University of Akron and the Conquer Chiari Research Center (CCRC), decided to conduct an ongoing study which measures the cognitive functions of Chiari I patients. He was ultimately interested in determining whether the cerebellum had sustained damage even after decompression surgery was performed. Twenty-four post-op, opiate free individuals were contacted to participate in this evaluation which measured the management, regulation, and control of their executive functions— working memory, reasoning, task processing, and problem solving abilities.

Although the Chiari I patients had no memory difficulties or delayed recall, they had problems with responding to and managing changing situations, environment, and other forms of stimuli compared to those without Chiari. Dr. Allen found that many of the individuals in his study with Chiari I suffered from executive dysfunctions which prohibits them from self- regulating their own behavior (e.g. keeping track of time, finishing work on time, inability to reflect on past knowledge, multitasking). 

Contributors

Philip A. Allen, James R. Houston, Mark G. Luciano

Aging and the Processing of Emotional Words, an Event-Related Potential Approach.

Event

2014 Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting

Abstract

Current knowledge of human attention with emotional material suggests distinct patterns of behavior in younger and older adults regarding emotional arousal and cognitive appraisal of emotional stimuli. In the domain of written word recognition, past research has identified emotional valence effects and word frequency effects at early and late stages that are believed to correspond to pre-lexical and post-lexical processing in younger adult samples. The current study sought to identify word frequency and emotional valence effects in a lexical decision task across a sample of younger and older adults in order to reveal distinct age-related patterns in the processing of written language with an emotional connotation. Behavioral and electrophysiological data were recorded from a sample of younger and older adults while completing a lexical decision task in which emotional words and phonologically correct nonwords were presented. In younger and older adult age groups, positive words were identified more rapidly than nonwords and common words were recognized faster and more accurately than uncommon words. Event-related potential data indicated no effects involving emotional valence at pre-lexical or post-lexical stages. However, an age group by emotional valence interaction suggested greater neurophysiological activation at the post-lexical stage (400-600 ms) in the younger adult sample for high frequency relative to low frequency words with no word frequency differentiation in the older adult sample. These findings suggest an age-related difference in word recognition at a post-lexical stage and have implications for both word recognition and emotional attention literatures.

Contributors

James R. Houston, Mei-Ching Lien, Philip A. Allen

Age group comparisons in cognitive aging: Do visual acuity criteria matter?

Event

2014 Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting

Abstract

The influence of visual capacities on cognitive performance in older adults has been frequently posited as being a driving force behind age group differences in task performance. This review of the cognitive aging literature explored the relationship between specific visual acuity criteria commonly utilized by aging researchers in order to assess the validity of concerns that a lack of consensus regarding visual acuity inclusionary criteria has had an effect on the interpretation of age comparisons. Age group comparisons in 462 studies were recorded across a wide array of cognitive domains including attention, executive function, explicit memory, language, perception, and processing speed. Resulting main effects for each study were transformed into effect sizes & age group comparisons by cognitive domain were compared across several inclusionary criteria. Across all domains of cognitive function, no planned comparisons of age differences in performance across visual acuity criterias reached significance. Results indicated that inclusionary criteria vexations in the cross-sectional aging literature is unsubstantiated based upon a significant number of articles across a variety of cognitive domains. Further efforts are needed to determine if visual functioning other than acuity (e.g. contrast sensitivity, luminance) have a more substantial impact on age differences in cognitive functioning.

Contributors

James R. Houston, Ilana J. Bennett, Philip A. Allen, David J. Madden

Normative Cognitive Slowing: Exploring the Phenomenon.

Event

2013 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference

Abstract

A well-known phenomenon that is experienced with normative aging is the slowing of processing speed as it relates to various cognitive tasks. This phenomenon, known as cognitive slowing can be utilized to describe functional differences across many domains. Verhaeghen et al. (1998), in describing cognitive slowing's relationship specifically with memory, stated, “aging brings about slowing in elementary cognitive processing, which in turn has a negative impact on memory performance”. Similar trends are seen in other domains as the slowing of processing speed is purported to be responsible for or exacerbate deficits in levels of functioning in cognitive tasks as individuals age. Support for these trends can be found in such other domains as visualization, psychomotor speed, & verbal fluency (Salthouse 2001), inhibitory function and attentional capacity (Hartley, 2006), and reasoning and spatial orientation (Salthouse, 2009) among others. While these findings typically involve the analysis of correlated variables, they have been able to provide a valuable framework in attempting to understand cognitive processes related to aging. The following discussion will begin by addressing the functional domains of the cognitive slowing phenomena with selected empirical support. From there, facets of research design such as structural modeling and issues of cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses will be explored. I will conclude by addressing possible biological substrates that have been hypothesized to be responsible for cognitive slowing and examine ways that individuals accommodate to maintain levels of functioning and well-being.

Contributors

James R. Houston