This week, we will have 2 presenters.
Travis Alvarez presents:
The Cerebellum and Cognition: Investigating Functional Specialization within the Cerebellum
It is traditionally understood that the cerebellum is a region of the brain that plays an important role in sending and receiving messages for motor coordination (Lisberger et al., 1988), with extensive research studies elucidating the neural underpinnings of this structure in relation to motor coordination and timing. These studies implicate the cerebellum as a key component for making adjustments to sensorimotor changes, and as a regulator of timing coordinated movements. However, recent research focusing on the neuroanatomical projections from the cerebellum has revealed that this region's target efferent pathways extend to non-motor regions in the cerebral cortex, including areas implicated in language processing. Although these recent studies have provided the field with indications of cerebellar involvement in cognitive processes, these findings focus on broad concepts of cognition and thus theories about the cerebellum's contribution to specific cognitive tasks still remains speculative. The current study employs language as a way to study cognitive processes of the cerebellum more explicitly. Specifically, we will use functional connectivity to assess whether activity in the cerebellum during a language task can be correlated with activity in language-biased regions within the cerebral cortex. We will localize language-based region by using two categorical tasks that have been well established as producing a particular pattern of activity in the cerebral cortex. These tasks tap into semantic processing and selection, as well as phonological encoding and recognition. We hypothesize that specific regions within the cerebellum will preferentially connect with established cerebral cortical areas that tap into phonological and semantic processing, theoretically establishing a distinctive cerebro-cerebellar phonological processing pathway and a distinctive cerebro-cerebellar lexico-semantic processing pathway.
Jon Siegel presents:
Sleep moderates the age effect on proactive interference
Research on aging and memory has consistently demonstrated decreased memory performance in older adults, specifically regarding tasks of verbal and spatial memory. In addition, older adults experience greater proactive interference on these verbal memory tasks compared to younger adults; however, retroactive interference seems to be relatively similar between age groups. Studies on exercise and memory have shown that physical activity can influence not only memory performance, but also the structural integrity of brain regions associated with memory and cognition (MTL regions and PFC). Furthermore, experiments on sleep and memory indicate that sleep has the ability to protect individuals from memory interference and improve memory performance, especially in younger adults. The present investigation examined the influence of age, sleep, and physical activity on a modified interference paradigm, which allowed for assessment of both proactive and retroactive interference. Participants (n=39) first studied AB and DE word pairs before undergoing a cued recall test. This study-test cycle was performed three times prior to starting the second session of the experiment. In session 2, participants had only one study-test cycle of AC and FG word pairs. Finally, participants performed a Modified Modified Free Recall (MMFR) test to examine their memory for all word pairs previously studied and tested. Results revealed that older adults experienced significantly more proactive interference than younger adults, but both age groups performed similarly on the retroactive interference measure. Interestingly, the age effects were seemingly moderated by sleep efficiency, showing increased sleep efficiency was associated with greater protection from proactive interference in the younger adult group only, when controlling for average physical activity.
* If you would like to schedule a talk or have questions about the Brown Bag series, please send an e-mail to Allison Liu, this year's student coordinator.