Our new primer article on Alzheimer’s disease and potential new biomarkers is out now on Current Biology.
Humans differ from other primates through their superior intellectual and mental abilities. When a gradual and chronic loss of these cognitive functions leads to a loss of independent living, the individual is described as being demented. Such declining cognitive functions encompass all mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge and practical skills, including memory, language, reasoning and attention. Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder, comprising approximately 60% of dementia cases. With steadily improving standards of living, people in developed regions of the world are living longer, and Alzheimer’s disease is associated strongly with old age. The number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease has been increasing steadily, and with today’s aging population, the number of people with dementia worldwide is expected to quadruple by 2050 unless effective treatment or prevention becomes available. In this Primer, we consider the symptoms, biological basis and potential biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Silvy Collin has been awarded the Rubicon grant by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to continue her scientific career at the Princeton Computational Neuroscience lab lead by Ken Norman. During her postdoc there she wants to investigate how the brain structures continuous, real-life experience with the use of computational modeling, neuroimaging and realistic episodic memory tasks. We wish Silvy all the best for her future!
Read more on the NWO website.
Our new study published in Journal of Vision, investigates the role of allocentric and egocentric reference frames in the updating of line orientation across head rotations.
The brain can use multiple reference frames to code line orientation, including head-, object-, and gravity-centered references. If these frames change orientation, their representations must be updated to keep register with actual line orientation. We tested this internal updating during head rotation in roll, exploiting the rod-and-frame effect: The illusory tilt of a vertical line surrounded by a tilted visual frame. If line orientation is stored relative to gravity, these distortions should also affect the updating process. Alternatively, if coding is head- or frame-centered, updating errors should be related to the changes in their orientation. Ten subjects were instructed to memorize the orientation of a briefly flashed line, surrounded by a tilted visual frame, then rotate their head, and subsequently judge the orientation of a second line relative to the memorized first while the frame was upright. Results showed that updating errors were mostly related to the amount of subjective distortion of gravity at both the initial and final head orientation, rather than to the amount of intervening head rotation. In some subjects, a smaller part of the updating error was also related to the change of visual frame orientation. We conclude that the brain relies primarily on a gravity-based reference to remember line orientation during head roll.
Niehof N, Tramper JJ, Doeller CF, Medendorp WP (2017). Updating of visual orientation in a gravity-based reference frame. Journal of Vision.