Check out some of the papers that were recently published by DMCBH members:

Annie Ciernia: Quantification of Global Histone Post Translational Modifications Using Intranuclear Flow Cytometry in Isolated Mouse Brain Microglia

Journal: Journal of Visualized Experiments

Histone post-translational modifications (HPTMs) can either facilitate gene expression or repression. While next-generation sequencing approaches have begun to characterize genomic locations for individual histone modifications, only one modification can be examined concurrently.

Given that there are hundreds of different HPTMs, the researchers have developed a high throughput, quantitative measure of global HPTMs that can be used to screen histone modifications prior to conducting more extensive genome sequencing approaches. This protocol describes a flow cytometry-based method to detect global HPTMs and can be conducted using cells in culture or isolated cells from in vivo tissues. The current study presents example data from isolated mouse brain microglia to demonstrate the sensitivity of the assay to detect global shifts in HPTMs in response to a bacteria-derived immune stimulus.


Teresa Liu-Ambrose: Addressing the elephant in the room: the need to examine the role of social determinants of health in the relationship of the 24-hour activity cycle and adult cognitive health

Journal: British Journal of Sports Medicine

Daily physical activity (PA), sedentary behaviour (SB) and sleep are often collectively referred to as the 24-hour activity cycle (24HAC). These behaviours are interdependent and interactively impact cognitive health outcomes. There is great potential for this interconnected health research area given the possible impact it has for promoting cognitive health.

However, in this review of the literature, key characteristics that stratify health opportunities and outcomes are overlooked. Social determinants of health require closer consideration since they can play a critical role in health outcomes. There are several social determinants of health which likely impact the 24HAC and cognitive health, including: place of residence, race or ethnicity, occupation, gender, religion, education, social capital, socioeconomic status, age, disability and sexual orientation.


Blair Leavitt: Genetic topography and cortical cell loss in Huntington’s disease link development and neurodegeneration 

Journal: BRAIN

Cortical cell loss is a core feature of Huntington’s disease (HD). However, it is unclear how genetic topography relates to cortical cell loss. The current study explores the biological processes and cell types underlying this relationship. Eighty premanifest participants on average 15 years from disease onset and 71 controls were included. Cortical cell loss was positively correlated with the expression of developmental genes and negatively correlated with the expression of synaptic and metabolic genes that have been implicated in neurodegeneration.

The findings suggest that cortical cell loss in preHD may arise from dual pathological processes, emerging as a consequence of neurodevelopmental changes, at the beginning of life, followed by neurodegeneration in adulthood, targeting areas with reduced expression of synaptic and metabolic genes. These events result in age-related cell death across multiple brain cell types.


Hee Yeon Im: The effect of masks on the emotion perception of a facial crowd

Journal: Scientific Reports

The present study investigated the effect of facial masks on people’s ability to perceive emotions in crowds. The researchers presented faces with the bottom halves occluded by masks or full faces without occlusion. Participants reported which of the two crowds they would avoid based on the crowds’ average emotions.

The participants’ ability to judge the average emotion of a crowd, especially a crowd expressing happiness, was impaired when the crowd wore masks. For faces covered by masks, crowd emotion judgments were more negatively biased than those without masks. However, participants could still distinguish the emotional intensities of a crowd wearing masks above chance. Additionally, participants responded more quickly to a crowd with more people without compromising accuracy, despite the perceptual challenges imposed by facial masks.


Lara Boyd: Females exhibit smaller volumes of brain activation and lower inter-subject variability during motor tasks 

Journal: Scientific Reports

Past work has shown that brain structure and function differ between females and males. Males have larger cortical and sub-cortical volume and surface area, while females have greater cortical thickness in most brain regions. Little work has systematically considered whether patterns of brain activity indexed with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) differ between females and males.

The current study sought to remediate this issue by employing task-based whole brain motor mapping analyses using an openly available dataset. Results suggest that females exhibited smaller volumes of brain activation across all 12 movement tasks, and lower patterns of variability in 10 of the 12 movements. Overall, these findings provide a foundation of understanding differences in how neurological pathologies present in females vs males.


Ipek Oruc: Artificial intelligence, explainability, and the scientific method: A proof-of-concept study on novel retinal biomarker discovery 

Journal: PNAS Nexus

The current study presents a structured approach to combine explainability of artificial intelligence (AI) with the scientific method for scientific discovery. The researchers demonstrate the utility of this approach in a proof-of-concept study where they uncover biomarkers from a convolutional neural network (CNN) model trained to classify patient sex in retinal images. This is a trait that is not currently recognized by diagnosticians in retinal images, yet, one successfully classified by CNNs.

The study’s findings showcase the potential for retinal biomarker discovery through CNN applications, with the added utility of empowering medical practitioners with new diagnostic capabilities to enhance their clinical toolkit.


Teresa Liu-Ambrose: Improved intraindividual variability in cognitive performance following cognitive and exercise training in older adults 

Journal: Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Increased intraindividual variability (IIV) of cognitive performance is a marker of cognitive decline in older adults. Whether computerized cognitive training (CCT) and aerobic exercise counteracts cognitive decline by reducing IIV is unknown. The current study investigated the effects of CCT with or without aerobic exercise on IIV in older adults.

Compared with the control group, IIV reduced in a processing speed task following CCT alone and CCT with aerobic exercise. Attention IIV was reduced only after CCT with aerobic exercise. The researchers conclude a CCT program promoted cognitive health via reductions in IIV of cognitive performance and combining it with aerobic exercise may result in broader benefits.