Broad Effects of Arousal on Quasi-Periodic Patterns of Brain Activity

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Humm, Erek Matthew
Schumacher, Eric H.
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Quasi Periodic Patterns (QPPs) are recurring patterns of brain activity found in brain imaging data that last approximately 20 seconds and occur at no regular interval. In this experiment, researchers aim to establish a link between the level of mental arousal and the strength and frequency of QPPs. It was thought that increased levels of arousal would result in an increase in the strength and frequency of QPPs. To test this, subjects from three different contrasting experimental groups conducted tasks while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner: (1) young subjects vs. old subjects, (2) task-engaged vs. resting-state, and (3) sleep disorder vs. no disorder. QPPs were regressed from the fMRI scans using an extensive processing and analysis pipeline. It was generally found that increased arousal levels led to an increase in the incidence and strength of QPPs. Increased arousal is present in young subjects, task-engaged subjects, and subjects without sleeping disorders. These results open the door for future experiments to quantify the link between arousal and QPPs. Establishing a link between these two can be vital to future research involving therapeutic devices, diagnostic tools, and even human-computer interfaces.
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