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  • Splice-switching efficiency and specificity for oligonucleotides with locked nucleic acid monomers.

    2 July 2018

    The use of antisense oligonucleotides to modulate splicing patterns has gained increasing attention as a therapeutic platform and, hence, the mechanisms of splice-switching oligonucleotides are of interest. Cells expressing luciferase pre-mRNA interrupted by an aberrantly spliced beta-globin intron, HeLa pLuc705, were used to monitor the splice-switching activity of modified oligonucleotides by detection of the expression of functional luciferase. It was observed that phosphorothioate 2'-O-methyl RNA oligonucleotides containing locked nucleic acid monomers provide outstanding splice-switching activity. However, similar oligonucleotides with several mismatches do not impede splice-switching activity which indicates a risk for off-target effects. The splice-switching activity is abolished when mismatches are introduced at several positions with locked nucleic acid monomers suggesting that it is the locked nucleic acid monomers that give rise to low mismatch discrimination to target pre-mRNA. The results highlight the importance of rational sequence design to allow for high efficiency with simultaneous high mismatch discrimination for splice-switching oligonucleotides and suggest that splice-switching activity is tunable by utilizing locked nucleic acid monomers.

  • Refractory epilepsy and deep brain stimulation

    3 July 2018

    Up to one-third of all patients with epilepsy have epilepsy refractory to medical therapy. Surgical options include temporal lobectomy, focal neocortical resection, stereotactic lesioning and neurostimulation. Neurostimulatory options comprise vagal nerve stimulation, trigeminal nerve stimulation and deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS enables structures in the brain to be stimulated electrically by an implanted pacemaker after a minimally invasive neurosurgical procedure and has become the therapy of choice for Parkinson's disease refractory to or complicated by drug therapy. Here we review DBS for epilepsy, a powerful emerging treatment in the surgical armamentarium for drug refractory epilepsy, with a focus on extratemporal epilepsy. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • Balancing the brain: Resting state networks and deep brain stimulation

    3 July 2018

    Over the last three decades, large numbers of patients with otherwise treatment-resistant disorders have been helped by deep brain stimulation (DBS), yet a full scientific understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms is still missing. We have previously proposed that efficacious DBS works by restoring the balance of the brain's resting state networks. Here, we extend this proposal by reviewing how detailed investigations of the highly coherent functional and structural brain networks in health and disease (such as Parkinson's) have the potential not only to increase our understanding of fundamental brain function but of how best to modulate the balance. In particular, some of the newly identified hubs and connectors within and between resting state networks could become important new targets for DBS, including potentially in neuropsychiatric disorders. At the same time, it is of essence to consider the ethical implications of this perspective.

  • Twiddler's syndrome in a patient with a deep brain stimulation device for generalized dystonia

    3 July 2018

    Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the technique of neurostimulation of deep brain structures for the treatment of conditions such as essential tremor, dystonia, Parkinson's disease and chronic pain syndromes. The procedure uses implanted deep brain stimulation electrodes connected to extension leads and an implantable pulse generator (IPG). Hardware failure related to the DBS procedure is not infrequent, and includes electrode migration and disconnection. We describe a patient who received bilateral globus pallidus internus DBS for dystonia with initially good clinical response, but the device eventually failed. Radiographs showed multiple twisting of the extension leads with disconnection from the brain electrodes and a diagnosis of Twiddler's syndrome was made. Twiddler's syndrome was first described in patients with cardiac pacemakers. Patients with mental disability, elderly and obese patients are at increased risk. Twiddler's syndrome should be suspected whenever there is a failure of the DBS device to relieve symptoms previously responsive to stimulation. Surgical correction is usually required. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • Impact of emotion on consciousness: positive stimuli enhance conscious reportability.

    3 July 2018

    Emotion and reward have been proposed to be closely linked to conscious experience, but empirical data are lacking. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a central role in the hedonic dimension of conscious experience; thus potentially a key region in interactions between emotion and consciousness. Here we tested the impact of emotion on conscious experience, and directly investigated the role of the ACC. We used a masked paradigm that measures conscious reportability in terms of subjective confidence and objective accuracy in identifying the briefly presented stimulus in a forced-choice test. By manipulating the emotional valence (positive, neutral, negative) and the presentation time (16 ms, 32 ms, 80 ms) we measured the impact of these variables on conscious and subliminal (i.e. below threshold) processing. First, we tested normal participants using face and word stimuli. Results showed that participants were more confident and accurate when consciously seeing happy versus sad/neutral faces and words. When stimuli were presented subliminally, we found no effect of emotion. To investigate the neural basis of this impact of emotion, we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) directly in the ACC in a chronic pain patient. Behavioural findings were replicated: the patient was more confident and accurate when (consciously) seeing happy versus sad faces, while no effect was seen in subliminal trials. Mirroring behavioural findings, we found significant differences in the LFPs after around 500 ms (lasting 30 ms) in conscious trials between happy and sad faces, while no effect was found in subliminal trials. We thus demonstrate a striking impact of emotion on conscious experience, with positive emotional stimuli enhancing conscious reportability. In line with previous studies, the data indicate a key role of the ACC, but goes beyond earlier work by providing the first direct evidence of interaction between emotion and conscious experience in the human ACC.

  • Surgical treatment of dystonia.

    3 July 2018

    Dystonia is a neurological condition characterised by abnormal muscle contractions, often causing repetitive twisting movements or abnormal postures. Varying forms of surgical intervention, for dystonia unresponsive to medical therapy, have evolved over the years and have often been associated with poor outcomes and high morbidity. The advent of stereotactic neurosurgery and the success of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in treating a number of movement disorders has revolutionized the surgical treatment for dystonia. This chapter reviews the literature concerning the surgical treatment dystonic conditions, from historical origins to the current use of modern functional neurosurgical techniques.

  • Impact of emotion on consciousness: positive stimuli enhance conscious reportability.

    3 July 2018

    Emotion and reward have been proposed to be closely linked to conscious experience, but empirical data are lacking. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a central role in the hedonic dimension of conscious experience; thus potentially a key region in interactions between emotion and consciousness. Here we tested the impact of emotion on conscious experience, and directly investigated the role of the ACC. We used a masked paradigm that measures conscious reportability in terms of subjective confidence and objective accuracy in identifying the briefly presented stimulus in a forced-choice test. By manipulating the emotional valence (positive, neutral, negative) and the presentation time (16 ms, 32 ms, 80 ms) we measured the impact of these variables on conscious and subliminal (i.e. below threshold) processing. First, we tested normal participants using face and word stimuli. Results showed that participants were more confident and accurate when consciously seeing happy versus sad/neutral faces and words. When stimuli were presented subliminally, we found no effect of emotion. To investigate the neural basis of this impact of emotion, we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) directly in the ACC in a chronic pain patient. Behavioural findings were replicated: the patient was more confident and accurate when (consciously) seeing happy versus sad faces, while no effect was seen in subliminal trials. Mirroring behavioural findings, we found significant differences in the LFPs after around 500 ms (lasting 30 ms) in conscious trials between happy and sad faces, while no effect was found in subliminal trials. We thus demonstrate a striking impact of emotion on conscious experience, with positive emotional stimuli enhancing conscious reportability. In line with previous studies, the data indicate a key role of the ACC, but goes beyond earlier work by providing the first direct evidence of interaction between emotion and conscious experience in the human ACC.

  • Balancing the brain: resting state networks and deep brain stimulation.

    3 July 2018

    Over the last three decades, large numbers of patients with otherwise treatment-resistant disorders have been helped by deep brain stimulation (DBS), yet a full scientific understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms is still missing. We have previously proposed that efficacious DBS works by restoring the balance of the brain's resting state networks. Here, we extend this proposal by reviewing how detailed investigations of the highly coherent functional and structural brain networks in health and disease (such as Parkinson's) have the potential not only to increase our understanding of fundamental brain function but of how best to modulate the balance. In particular, some of the newly identified hubs and connectors within and between resting state networks could become important new targets for DBS, including potentially in neuropsychiatric disorders. At the same time, it is of essence to consider the ethical implications of this perspective.