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Lateralization and cognitive systems

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889194117 Year: Pages: 314 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-411-7 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-10 11:59:06
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Abstract

Left-right asymmetries of structure and function are a common organization principle in the brains of humans and non-human vertebrates alike. While there are inherently asymmetric systems such as the human language system or the song system of songbirds, the impact of structural or functional asymmetries on perception, cognition and behavior is not necessarily limited to these systems. For example, performance in experimental paradigms that assess executive functions such as inhibition, planning or action monitoring is influenced by information processing in the bottom-up channel. Depending on the type of stimuli used, one hemisphere can be more efficient in processing than the other and these functional cerebral asymmetries have been shown to modulate the efficacy of executive functions via the bottom-up channel. We only begin to understand the complex neuronal mechanisms underlying this interaction between hemispheric asymmetries and cognitive systems. Therefore, it is the aim of this Research Topics to further elucidate how structural or functional hemispheric asymmetries modulate perception, cognition and behavior in the broadest sense.

Extinction Learning from a Mechanistic and Systems Perspective

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889199082 Year: Pages: 277 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-908-2 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-01-19 14:05:46
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Throughout their lifetime, animals learn to associate stimuli with their consequences. Following memory acquisition and consolidation, circumstances may arise that necessitate that initially learned behaviour is no longer relevant. The ensuing process is called extinction learning and involves a novel and complex learning procedure that involves a large number of neural entities. While the neural fundaments of the initial acquisition are well studied, our understanding of the behavioural and neural basis of extinction is still limited and derives mostly from rodent data acquired through fear conditioning paradigms. Fear conditioning and extinction in rodents is a spectacularly successful paradigm within behavioral neuroscience. However, in recent years, new approaches have been emerging that examine the mechanisms of extinction learning in different setting that also involve appetitive models, a broader comparative perspective, a focus on other brain systems, an examination of hormonal factors, and conditioning of immune responses. Only a broader analysis of the neural fundaments of extinction learning will finally uncover shared and distinct mechanisms that underlie extinction learning in different functional systems. The papers compiled in this Research Topic offer new and valuable insights into the mechanisms and functional implementation of extinction learning at its different levels of complexity, and form the basis for new concepts and research ideas in this field.

From Sex Differences in Neuroscience to a Neuroscience of Sex Differences: New Directions and Perspectives

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889196890 Year: Pages: 199 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-689-0 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Internal medicine --- Medicine (General) --- Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-04-07 11:22:02
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This research topic aims to integrate scattered findings on sex differences in neuroscience into a broader theory of how the human brain is shaped by sex and sex hormones in order to cause the great variety of sex differences that are commonly observed. It can be assumed that these differences didn’t occur arbitrarily, but that they rather determined and still determine evolutionary success of individuals and were shaped by the processes of natural and in particular sexual selection. Therefore, sex differences are not negligible and sex difference research cannot be discriminating against one sex or the other. In fact a better understanding of the underlying causes of sex differences has great advantages for both men and women and society as a whole, not only in terms of health care, but in every aspect of life. Gender equality can only work out if it is equally well understood for men and women what their individual resources and needs are. Therefore, it is of great importance to pave the way for identifying the underlying principles of structural and functional brain organization that cause men and women to act, think and feel differently. To this end it is of particular interest to identify possible similarities and interrelations between sex differences that did so far stand separately, in order to investigate whether they share a common source. To understand, where a specific sex difference comes from and whether or not it is caused by the same principle as other sex differences, it is necessary to explicitly link sex differences in behavior to their neuronal correlates and vice versa link sex differences in brain structure and function to their behavioral outcomes. In particular a new understanding of male and female brain functioning may arise from findings on how sex hormones interact with various neurotransmitter systems. In the past few years several findings demonstrated that women’s behavior is influenced by the sex hormone fluctuations they experience naturally during their menstrual cycle to the extent that sex differences may only be detectable in one cycle phase but not another. The study of menstrual cycle dependent effects gives important hints about which sex differences are activational and which are organizational. Additionally it only recently came to attention, that hormonal contraception may alter a women’s mood, cognition and behavior as a consequence of changes in brain structure and function. The underlying mechanisms are so poorly understood that it is even hard to predict, whether hormonal contraception will mask or amplify sex differences in a given task. Since the oral hormonal contraceptive pill is meanwhile used by 100 million women worldwide and even by teenagers whose brains are not yet fully developed, the question of how the synthetic steroids contained in hormonal contraceptives act on the brain is to be studied hand in hand with naturally occurring sex differences. This topic summarizes the current state of the art in sex difference research and gives new perspectives in terms of hypothesis generation an methodology. Both are necessary to gain a complete picture of what it is that makes a brain male or female and move towards a neuroscience of sex differences.

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