Science in comic strips

The NeuroMat story "The arms of Nildo and Rony," created by Antonio Galves, was featured in the five-item recommendation list of a Pesquisa FAPESP video on scientific comic book. (In Portuguese.)Pesquisa Fapesp YouTube channel, 08/2018. (In Portuguese.)

Can the Recording of Motor Potentials Evoked by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Be Optimized?

Marco A. C. Garcia, Victor H. Souza and Claudia D. Vargas

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with surface electromyography (sEMG) has been for a long time an important non-invasive tool to investigate and better understand how brain controls the skeletal muscles. However, the present literature still lacks standardization protocols and comprehensive discussions about possible influences of sEMG electrode placement and montages on TMS evoked responses. With the advent of TMS by Barker et al. (1985), several advances have been made in basic and clinical neurophysiology (Rossini et al., 2015). In TMS, a high-intensity brief magnetic pulse applied with a coil over the subject's scalp, induces an electric field across the cortical tissue that depolarizes a group of neuronal pools. Therefore, if a single pulse is applied over a particular spot of the primary motor cortex (M1), the generated action potentials travel down the corticospinal tract reaching a specific muscle or group of muscles, which in turn can be achieved by recording their myoelectric activities. Such myoelectric activity may contain potentials varying from a few micro to millivolts and are recognized as motor evoked potentials (MEPs). MEPs can be recorded by means of sEMG with different electrode types, e.g. surface or indwelling, and montages, e.g. mono and bipolar. Most TMS applications take advantage of MEP amplitude and latency to evaluate the integrity and/or excitability of the motor corticospinal pathway to study normal and abnormal aspects of neurophysiology, including the pathophysiology of many neurological and motor disorders. Some may believe that differences in electrode arrangement for recording MEPs can offer a small impact in data quality; in this case he/she may be a victim of an ordinary pitfall. Thus, we may ask and discuss along this manuscript, what are the disadvantages and advantages of recording MEPs from different surface electrode montages? Do they provide a robust and similar comprehension of motor corticospinal excitability?

The anguish of the mathematician Ludwig Boltzmann

The second post by RIDC NeuroMat director, Antonio Galves, at the blog on Science and Mathematics at O Globo was also out this month. It is the first of a series on the laws of thermodynamics and Ludwig Boltzmann.O Globo website, 08/2018. (In Portuguese.)

Effect of TMS coil orientation on the spatial distribution of motor evoked potentials in an intrinsic hand muscle

Souza VH, Vieira TM, Peres ASC, Garcia MAC, Vargas CD, Baffa O

Previous reports on the relationship between coil orientation and amplitude of motor evoked potential (MEP) in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) did not consider the effect of electrode arrangement. Here we explore this open issue by investigating whether TMS coil orientation affects the amplitude distribution of MEPs recorded from the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscle with a bi-dimensional grid of 61 electrodes. Moreover, we test whether conventional mono- and bipolar montages provide representative MEPs compared to those from the grid of electrodes. Our results show that MEPs with the greatest amplitudes were elicited for 45° and 90° coil orientations, i.e. perpendicular to the central sulcus, for all electrode montages. Stimulation with the coil oriented at 135° and 315°, i.e. parallel to the central sulcus, elicited the smallest MEP amplitudes. Additionally, changes in coil orientation did not affect the spatial distribution of MEPs over the muscle extent. It has been shown that conventional electrodes with detection volume encompassing the APB belly may detect representative MEPs for optimal coil orientations. In turn, non-optimal orientations were identified only with the grid of electrodes. High-density electromyography may therefore provide new insights into the effect of coil orientation on MEPs from the APB muscle.

Dream Reporting May Help Diagnose Schizophrenia

This week "Agência FAPESP" website featured a text on a research about how dream reporting may help diagnose schizophrenia. The research is conducted by Professor Sidarta Ribeiro, a neuroscientist and director of the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), who is also one of the researchers linked to the RIDC NeuroMat. Schizophrenic patients may present psychosis, loss of contact with reality that causes delusions, hallucinations and incoherent speech, among other symptoms. The diagnosis of these patients, however, can take six months to be closed and can be reviewed several times throughout their lives by different specialists, since there are no biomarkers to attest this mental disorder. "What we measure today to diagnose schizophrenia are the patients' responses in a questionnaire. Although important, this method is highly subjective. Therefore, patients with schizophrenia are treated in a variety of ways, by multiple methods and usually with combinations of drugs", said Sidarta." Agência FAPESP website, 08/2018. (In Portuguese.)

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O Centro de Pesquisa, Inovação e Difusão em Neuromatemática está sediado na Universidade de São Paulo e é financiado pela FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).

 

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