Spatiotemporal activity in affection and its disorders: The STHENOS approach

C. Styliadis, M.A. Klados, E. I. Konstantinidis, A. Billis and P. D. Bamidis, 

Proceedings of ELEVIT2013 conference

Abstract: Affection is served by a network of widespread distinct neural sources (cortical and subcortical) specialized to  process stimuli of emotional significance. A concrete  assessment on emotional processing in between and within these neural sources must also account for the  sub-second temporal sequencing of their neural activity [1]. Emotions are often considered a representation of  arousal and valence and their processing is temporally distinguished in three phases; a prioritized valence  encoding, followed by the arousal encoding and then their interaction [2]. Identifying the primary sources in  these networks and acknowledging their neural activity in time, in the healthy population, can aid the treatment  of the affective disorders. Affective disorders have an

abnormal neurophysiological basis and specific  magnetoencephalographic (MEG) patterns. Abnormalities  include higher detection thresholds and  longer response times in emotional processing. Peak activations may be delayed after affective stimulation  indicating temporal discoordination of neural responses. Lesion studies alone are unable to fully assess the  underlying neural mechanisms that form the basis for  the affective disorders. For instance, neuroimaging studies on healthy participants [3] have complemented  the findings from research on human clinical data [4], and suggest that emotional processing takes place in  distinct posterior cerebellar sub-lobules, particularly in the vermis. The vermis is considered the limbic  cerebellum and is particularly involved in the encoding of emotional arousal. Abnormalities in cerebellar  spatiotemporal activity have been reported in unipolar,

bipolar, schizophrenic, neurodegenerative disorders and  hyperarousal symptoms, which are present in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized  anxiety disorder (GAD) [5]. The cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS) is characterized by  behavioral and affective changes such as emotional dysregulation, reduced pleasant experience, emotional  and social withdrawal when the lesions encroach upon the vermis and the paravermian regions. An MEG study  on the cerebellar spatiotemporal pattern of affection in the healthy population confirms the cerebellar  functional specificity and suggests for the first time that these processes occur in specific time instances [6].  Knowledge of these mechanisms will contribute useful evidence to emotionally declining populations by  feeding low cost neurofeedback devices. Neurofeedback is used to change the timing and activation patterns in  the brain. It trains the brain by creating changes in feedback loops and pathways. It results in improved  brain regulation and impacts a variety of symptoms of the affective disorders. Therapeutic interventions have  been associated with changes in cerebellar function; the cerebellar vermis activity is increased during  biofeedback relaxation [7]. Potential contributions on how relaxation training in stress disorders may mediate  their effects is the core of neurofeedback therapy. This thread of 'STHENOS' will employ findings from basic  neuroscience research so as to offer a deep understanding of the affective spatiotemporal profile  and aid in treating most affective disorders.