Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Motor Excitability predicts Working Memory

23.12.2013
Humans with a high motor excitability have a better working memory than humans with a low excitability.

This was shown in a study conducted by scientists from the Transfacultary Research Platform at the University of Basel. By measuring the motor excitability, conclusions can be drawn as to the general cortical excitability – as well as to cognitive performance.

Working memory allows the temporary storage of information such as memorizing a phone number for a short period of time. Studies in animals have shown that working memory processes among others depend on the excitability of neurons in the prefrontal cortex.

Moreover, there is evidence that motor neuronal excitability might be related to the neuronal excitability of other cortical regions. Researchers from the Psychiatric University Clinics (UPK Basel) and the Faculty of Psychology in Basel have now studied if the excitability of the motor cortex correlates with working memory performance– results were positive.

«The motor cortical excitability can be easily studied with transcranial magnetic stimulation», says Nathalie Schicktanz, doctoral student and first author of the study. During this procedure, electromagnetic impulses with increasing intensity are applied over the motor cortex. For subjects with high motor excitability already weak impulses are sufficient to trigger certain muscles – such as those of the hand – to show a visible twitch.

Conclusions for other cortical regions

In the present study, that included 188 healthy young subjects, the scientists were able to show that subjects with a high motor excitability had increased working memory performance as compared to subjects with a low excitability. «By measuring the excitability of the motor cortex, conclusions can be drawn as to the excitability of other cortical areas», says Schicktanz.

«The findings help us to understand the importance of neuronal excitability for cognitive processes in humans», adds Dr. Kyrill Schwegler, co-author of the study. The results might also have important clinical implications, as working memory deficits are a component of many neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a next step, the scientists plan to study the relation between neuronal excitability and memory on a molecular level.

The study is part of a project lead by Prof. Dominique de Quervain and Prof. Andreas Papassotiropoulos. The project uses transcranial magnetic stimulation to study the cognitive functions in humans. The goal is to identify the neurobiological and molecular mechanisms of human memory.

Original citation
Nathalie Schicktanz, Kyrill Schwegler, Matthias Fastenrath, Klara Spalek, Annette Milnik, Andreas Papassotiropoulos, Thomas Nyffeler & Dominique J.-F. de Quervain
Motor threshold predicts working memory performance in healthy humans
Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 2013, DOI: 10.1002/acn3.22
Further information
Nathalie Schicktanz, Faculty of Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, phone: +41 (0)61 267 02 28, email: nathalie.schicktanz@unibas.ch
Dr. Kyrill Schwegler, UPK Basel, phone: +41 (0)61 325 51 02 and +41 (0)79 577 35 92, email: kyrill.schwegler@unibas.ch

Prof. Dominique de Quervain, Faculty of Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, phone: +41 61 267 02 37, email : dominique.dequervain@unibas.ch

Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch
http://www.unibas.ch/index.cfm?uuid=103EA22DAD9486E4B378CFBF575B9253&type=search&show_long=1&o_lang_id=2

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>