Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Source: Northwestern University.

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.

Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.

This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.

When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.

In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.

The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.

“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.

ABOUT THIS MEMORY RESEARCH ARTICLE

Other Northwestern authors include Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Dr. Stephan Schuele and Dr. Joshua Rosenow.

Funding: The study was supported by grants R00DC012803, R21DC012014 and R01DC013243 from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Marla Paul – Northwestern University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Video Source: The video is credited to NorthwesternU.
Original Research: Abstract for “Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016

Abstract

Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function

The need to breathe links the mammalian olfactory system inextricably to the respiratory rhythms that draw air through the nose. In rodents and other small animals, slow oscillations of local field potential activity are driven at the rate of breathing (∼2–12 Hz) in olfactory bulb and cortex, and faster oscillatory bursts are coupled to specific phases of the respiratory cycle. These dynamic rhythms are thought to regulate cortical excitability and coordinate network interactions, helping to shape olfactory coding, memory, and behavior. However, while respiratory oscillations are a ubiquitous hallmark of olfactory system function in animals, direct evidence for such patterns is lacking in humans. In this study, we acquired intracranial EEG data from rare patients (Ps) with medically refractory epilepsy, enabling us to test the hypothesis that cortical oscillatory activity would be entrained to the human respiratory cycle, albeit at the much slower rhythm of ∼0.16–0.33 Hz.

Our results reveal that natural breathing synchronizes electrical activity in human piriform (olfactory) cortex, as well as in limbic-related brain areas, including amygdala and hippocampus. Notably, oscillatory power peaked during inspiration and dissipated when breathing was diverted from nose to mouth. Parallel behavioral experiments showed that breathing phase enhances fear discrimination and memory retrieval. Our findings provide a unique framework for understanding the pivotal role of nasal breathing in coordinating neuronal oscillations to support stimulus processing and behavior.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Animal studies have long shown that olfactory oscillatory activity emerges in line with the natural rhythm of breathing, even in the absence of an odor stimulus. Whether the breathing cycle induces cortical oscillations in the human brain is poorly understood. In this study, we collected intracranial EEG data from rare patients with medically intractable epilepsy, and found evidence for respiratory entrainment of local field potential activity in human piriform cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. These effects diminished when breathing was diverted to the mouth, highlighting the importance of nasal airflow for generating respiratory oscillations. Finally, behavioral data in healthy subjects suggest that breathing phase systematically influences cognitive tasks related to amygdala and hippocampal functions.

“Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016

Love and fear are visible across the brain

How We Recall the Past

How We Recall the Past

Summary: Researchers have identified a neural circuit that is critical for memory retrieval.

Source: MIT.

Neuroscientists discover a brain circuit dedicated to retrieving memories.

When we have a new experience, the memory of that event is stored in a neural circuit that connects several parts of the hippocampus and other brain structures. Each cluster of neurons may store different aspects of the memory, such as the location where the event occurred or the emotions associated with it.

Neuroscientists who study memory have long believed that when we recall these memories, our brains turn on the same hippocampal circuit that was activated when the memory was originally formed. However, MIT neuroscientists have now shown, for the first time, that recalling a memory requires a “detour” circuit that branches off from the original memory circuit.

“This study addresses one of the most fundamental questions in brain research — namely how episodic memories are formed and retrieved — and provides evidence for an unexpected answer: differential circuits for retrieval and formation,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, the director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and the study’s senior author.

This distinct recall circuit has never been seen before in a vertebrate animal, although a study published last year found a similar recall circuit in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans.

Dheeraj Roy, a recent MIT PhD recipient, and research scientist Takashi Kitamura are the lead authors of the paper, which appears in the Aug. 17 online edition of Cell. Other MIT authors are postdocs Teruhiro Okuyama and Sachie Ogawa, and graduate student Chen Sun. Yuichi Obata and Atsushi Yoshiki of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute are also authors of the paper.

Parts unknown

The hippocampus is divided into several regions with different memory-related functions — most of which have been well-explored, but a small area called the subiculum has been little-studied. Tonegawa’s lab set out to investigate this region using mice that were genetically engineered so that their subiculum neurons could be turned on or off using light.

The researchers used this approach to control memory cells during a fear-conditioning event — that is, a mild electric shock delivered when the mouse is in a particular chamber.

Previous research has shown that encoding these memories involves cells in a part of the hippocampus called CA1, which then relays information to another brain structure called the entorhinal cortex. In each location, small subsets of neurons are activated, forming memory traces known as engrams.

“It’s been thought that the circuits which are involved in forming engrams are the same as the circuits involved in the re-activation of these cells that occurs during the recall process,” Tonegawa says.

However, scientists had previously identified anatomical connections that detour from CA1 through the subiculum, which then connects to the entorhinal cortex. The function of this circuit, and of the subiculum in general, was unknown.

In one group of mice, the MIT team inhibited neurons of the subiculum as the mice underwent fear conditioning, which had no effect on their ability to later recall the experience. However, in another group, they inhibited subiculum neurons after fear conditioning had occurred, when the mice were placed back in the original chamber. These mice did not show the usual fear response, demonstrating that their ability to recall the memory was impaired.

This provides evidence that the detour circuit involving the subiculum is necessary for memory recall but not for memory formation. Other experiments revealed that the direct circuit from CA1 to the entorhinal cortex is not necessary for memory recall, but is required for memory formation.

“Initially, we did not expect the outcome would come out this way,” Tonegawa says. “We just planned to explore what the function of the subiculum could be.”

“This paper is a tour de force of advanced neuroscience techniques, with an intriguing core result showing the existence and importance of different pathways for formation and retrieval of hippocampus-dependent memories,” says Karl Deisseroth, a professor of bioengineering and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, who was not involved in the study.

Editing memories

Why would the hippocampus need two distinct circuits for memory formation and recall? The researchers found evidence for two possible explanations. One is that interactions of the two circuits make it easier to edit or update memories. As the recall circuit is activated, simultaneous activation of the memory formation circuit allows new information to be added.

Image shows CA1 hippocampal neurons.

“We think that having these circuits in parallel helps the animal first recall the memory, and when needed, encode new information,” Roy says. “It’s very common when you remember a previous experience, if there’s something new to add, to incorporate the new information into the existing memory.”

Another possible function of the detour circuit is to help stimulate longer-term stress responses. The researchers found that the subiculum connects to a pair of structures in the hypothalamus known as the mammillary bodies, which stimulates the release of stress hormones called corticosteroids. That takes place at least an hour after the fearful memory is recalled.

While the researchers identified the two-circuit system in experiments involving memories with an emotional component (both positive and negative), the system is likely involved in any kind of episodic memory, the researchers say.

The findings also suggest an intriguing possibility related to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the researchers. Last year, Roy and others in Tonegawa’s lab found that mice with a version of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease have trouble recalling memories but are still able to form new memories. The new study suggests that this subiculum circuit may be affected in Alzheimer’s disease, although the researchers have not studied this.

ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

Funding: The research was funded by the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the JPB Foundation.

Source: Anne Trafton – MIT
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Dheeraj Roy/Tonegawa Lab, MIT.
Original Research: Abstract for “Distinct Neural Circuits for the Formation and Retrieval of Episodic Memories” by Dheeraj S. Roy, Takashi Kitamura, Teruhiro Okuyama, Sachie K. Ogawa, Chen Sun, Yuichi Obata, Atsushi Yoshiki, and Susumu Tonegawa in Cell. Published online August 17 2017 doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.07.013

MIT “How We Recall the Past.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 17 August 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-retrieval-neural-network-7321/&gt;.

Abstract

Distinct Neural Circuits for the Formation and Retrieval of Episodic Memories

Highlights

•dSub and the circuit, CA1→dSub→EC5, are required for hippocampal memory retrieval
•The direct CA1→EC5 circuit is essential for hippocampal memory formation
•The dSub→MB circuit regulates memory-retrieval-induced stress hormone responses
•The dSub→EC5 circuit contributes to context-dependent memory updating

Summary
The formation and retrieval of a memory is thought to be accomplished by activation and reactivation, respectively, of the memory-holding cells (engram cells) by a common set of neural circuits, but this hypothesis has not been established.

The medial temporal-lobe system is essential for the formation and retrieval of episodic memory for which individual hippocampal subfields and entorhinal cortex layers contribute by carrying out specific functions.

One subfield whose function is poorly known is the subiculum. Here, we show that dorsal subiculum and the circuit, CA1 to dorsal subiculum to medial entorhinal cortex layer 5, play a crucial role selectively in the retrieval of episodic memories. Conversely, the direct CA1 to medial entorhinal cortex layer 5 circuit is essential specifically for memory formation.

Our data suggest that the subiculum-containing detour loop is dedicated to meet the requirements associated with recall such as rapid memory updating and retrieval-driven instinctive fear responses.

“Distinct Neural Circuits for the Formation and Retrieval of Episodic Memories” by Dheeraj S. Roy, Takashi Kitamura, Teruhiro Okuyama, Sachie K. Ogawa, Chen Sun, Yuichi Obata, Atsushi Yoshiki, and Susumu Tonegawa in Cell. Published online August 17 2017 doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.07.013

How the Gut Feeling Shapes Fear

We are all familiar with that uncomfortable feeling in our stomach when faced with a threatening situation. By studying rats, researchers at ETH Zurich have been able to prove for the first time that our ‘gut instinct’ has a significant impact on how we react to fear.

An unlit, deserted car park at night, footsteps in the gloom. The heart beats faster and the stomach ties itself in knots. We often feel threatening situations in our stomachs. While the brain has long been viewed as the centre of all emotions, researchers are increasingly trying to get to the bottom of this proverbial gut instinct.

It is not only the brain that controls processes in our abdominal cavity; our stomach also sends signals back to the brain. At the heart of this dialogue between the brain and abdomen is the vagus nerve, which transmits signals in both directions – from the brain to our internal organs (via the so called efferent nerves) and from the stomach back to our brain (via the afferent nerves). By cutting the afferent nerve fibres in rats, a team of scientists led by Urs Meyer, a researcher in the group of ETH Zurich professor Wolfgang Langhans, turned this two-way communication into a one-way street, enabling the researchers to get to the bottom of the role played by gut instinct. In the test animals, the brain was still able to control processes in the abdomen, but no longer received any signals from the other direction.

This image shows a brain and the gut in orange. It is a montage image.

Less fear without gut instinct

In the behavioural studies, the researchers determined that the rats were less wary of open spaces and bright lights compared with controlled rats with an intact vagus nerve. “The innate response to fear appears to be influenced significantly by signals sent from the stomach to the brain,” says Meyer.

Nevertheless, the loss of their gut instinct did not make the rats completely fearless: the situation for learned fear behaviour looked different. In a conditioning experiment, the rats learned to link a neutral acoustic stimulus – a sound – to an unpleasant experience. Here, the signal path between the stomach and brain appeared to play no role, with the test animals learning the association as well as the control animals. If, however, the researchers switched from a negative to a neutral stimulus, the rats without gut instinct required significantly longer to associate the sound with the new, neutral situation. This also fits with the results of a recently published study conducted by other researchers, which found that stimulation of the vagus nerve facilitates relearning, says Meyer.

These findings are also of interest to the field of psychiatry, as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for example, is linked to the association of neutral stimuli with fear triggered by extreme experiences. Stimulation of the vagus nerve could help people with PTSD to once more associate the triggering stimuli with neutral experiences. Vagus nerve stimulation is already used today to treat epilepsy and, in some cases, depression.

Stomach influences signalling in the brain

“A lower level of innate fear, but a longer retention of learned fear – this may sound contradictory,” says Meyer.

However, innate and conditioned fear are two different behavioural domains in which different signalling systems in the brain are involved. On closer investigation of the rats’ brains, the researchers found that the loss of signals from the abdomen changes the production of certain signalling substances, so called neurotransmitters, in the brain.

“We were able to show for the first time that the selective interruption of the signal path from the stomach to the brain changed complex behavioural patterns. This has traditionally been attributed to the brain alone,” says Meyer. The study shows clearly that the stomach also has a say in how we respond to fear; however, what it says, i.e. precisely what it signals, is not yet clear. The researchers hope, however, that they will be able to further clarify the role of the vagus nerve and the dialogue between brain and body in future studies.

NOTES ABOUT THIS NEUROPSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH

Contact: Angelika Jacobs – ETH Zurich
Source: ETH Zurich press release
Image Source: The image is credited to Fotolia.com/ETH Zurich and is adapted from the press release
Original Research: Abstract for “Gut Vagal Afferents Differentially Modulate Innate Anxiety and Learned Fear” by Klarer M, Arnold M, Günther L, Winter C, Langhans W, and Meyer U in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online May 21 2014 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0252-14.2014

False Emotion Appearing Real – FEAR

Love trumps Fear, Deception and Hate

According to a 1990 Vanity Fair interview, Ivana Trump once told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that her husband, real-estate mogul Donald Trump, now a leading Republican presidential candidate, kept a book of Hitler’s speeches near his bed.

“Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed … Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist,” Marie Brenner wrote.

Hitler was one of history’s most prolific orators, building a genocidal Nazi regime with speeches that bewitched audiences.

“He learned how to become a charismatic speaker, and people, for whatever reason, became enamored with him,” Professor Bruce Loebs, who has taught a class called the Rhetoric of Hitler and Churchill for the past 46 years at Idaho State University, told Business Insider earlier this year.

“People were most willing to follow him, because he seemed to have the right answers in a time of enormous economic upheaval.”

When Brenner asked Trump about how he came to possess Hitler’s speeches, “Trump hesitated” and then said, “Who told you that?”

“I don’t remember,” Brenner reportedly replied.

Trump then recalled, “Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of ‘Mein Kampf,’ and he’s a Jew.”

Brenner added that Davis did acknowledge that he gave Trump a book about Hitler.

“But it was ‘My New Order,’ Hitler’s speeches, not ‘Mein Kampf,'” Davis reportedly said. “I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”

After Trump and Brenner changed topics, Trump returned to the subject and reportedly said, “If, I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”

In the Vanity Fair article, Ivana Trump told a friend that her husband’s cousin, John Walter “clicks his heels and says, ‘Heil Hitler,” when visiting Trump’s office.

Here’s the entire Vanity Fair interview.

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Hair growth drug is taken by Mr Trump according to his doctor

Propecia may also cause decrease in blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, and can affect the PSA blood test.

Propecia is available in strength of 1 mg tablets; the recommended dose of Propecia is one tablet (1mg) taken once daily. In general daily use for three months is necessary before benefit is observed. Withdrawl of treatment leads to reversal of effect within 12 months. Propecia may interact with other drugs. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Propecia is not indicated for use in women. Women should not handle crushed or broken Propecia tablets when they are pregnant or may potentially be pregnant. Caution should be used in older men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), PSA levels are decreased by approximately 50%. Men aged 55 and over have increased risk of high grade prostate cancer with 5a-reductase inhibitors. Caution should be exercised in administration of Propecia in those patients with liver function abnormalities.

parkinson-and-minoxidil

Certain mental health problems, like depression and disturbances — such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia — are possible complications of Parkinson’sdisease and/or its treatment.

Fear of Falling with Parkinson

Although fear of falling (FOF) is common in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), there is a lack of research investigating potential predictors of FOF. This study explored the impact of motor, nonmotor, and demographic factors as well as complications of drug therapy on FOF among people with PD. Postal survey data (including the Falls Efficacy Scale, FES) from 154 nondemented people with PD were analyzed using multiple regression analyses. Five significant independent variables were identified explaining 74% of the variance in FES scores. The strongest contributing factor to FOF was walking difficulties (explaining 68%), followed by fatigue, turning hesitations, need for help in daily activities, and motor fluctuations. Exploring specific aspects of walking identified three significant variables explaining 59% of FOF: balance problems, limited ability to climb stairs, and turning hesitations. These results have implications for rehabilitation clinicians and suggest that walking ability is the primary target in order to reduce FOF. Specifically, balance, climbing stairs, and turning seem to be of particular importance.

Mr Trump fear of stairs

This weekend, the press went berserk over the news that President Donald Trump supposedly gripped British Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand on a White House path as a result of bathmophobia, a pathological fear of stairs or inclines. The handclasp did not last long. As The Telegraphreported, “Just as the couple reach the top of the slope, the president stretches out his left arm and grabs at Mrs. May’s right hand. They then walk for about five steps before Mr. Trump slides his left arm across and pats the underside of Mrs. May’s hand, possibly grateful for her steadying presence.” The Sun was more dramatic: “‘SCARE’CASE: Is Donald Trump afraid of stairs and what is bathmophobia? Here’s all you need to know.” The condition, The Sunreported, is “common in household pets.”