Alumni Talk Series: Daniel Margulies (Leipzig) and Lia Sanders (Fortaleza, Brazil)
Hosted by Professor Arno Villringer
Daniel Margulies was a member of doctoral cohort 2007–2010. He is now a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. Daniel will talk about “Towards topographic principles of cortical connectivity”.
Abstract: What determines the spatial arrangement of distinct areas of the cerebral cortex? Insights into functional processing streams indicate that areas are arranged stepwise, such that adjacent spatial position along the cortical mantle represents functional gradients. Having been largely restricted to the description of specific sensory systems, how do these principles generalize across modalities and extend to the surrounding association cortex? I will present recent work describing a principal gradient in cortical connectivity that spans between primary sensory/motor areas and higher-order transmodal association regions that in humans are known as the default-mode network. This topographic arrangement can be observed in the organization of both human and macaque monkey cortical connectivity, and provides an organizing spatial framework for the location of large-scale networks. In addition, the connectivity gradient provides insight into the location of regions in the physical space of the cortex — as the morphological landmarks of primary cortical areas are located at equidistant positions from the center of transmodal regions. This arrangement suggests ontogenetic mechanisms giving rise to the spatial distribution of functions, as well as an anatomical scaffolding for investigating the propagation of information at both local and distributed spatial scales.
Lia Sanders was a member of doctoral cohort 2009–2012. She is now working as a psychiatrist in the hospital of Fortaleza, Brazil. Lia will talk about “Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) as adjuvant treatment in schizophrenia”.
Abstract: Psychopharmacological interventions for patients with schizophrenia are limited to a handful of antipsychotics. Despite the proven efficacy of these drugs, the overall outcome for schizophrenia remains suboptimal. Accumulating evidence suggests that oxidative stress may be involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, as evidenced by increased production of reactive oxygen species or decreased antioxidant protection in schizophrenic patients. This offers a hypothesis-derived therapeutic approach to hinder oxidative damage and its clinical sequelae. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a powerful natural antioxidant and free radical scavenger used for the treatment of symptomatic diabetic neuropathy. Thus, ALA supplementation may help protect mitochondria from oxidative alterations related to schizophrenia. In my talk, I will review molecular mechanisms of the impaired antioxidant defense system and membrane alterations in schizophrenia and present the results of a 4-month open label, pilot study, in which we offered nine patients with schizophrenia adjuvant treatment with ALA (100 mg/day). Patients showed a significant improvement in negative, positive, cognitive and depressive symptoms. There was also a significant reduction in extrapyramidal symptoms (e.g.: tremor, rigidity), which are important motor side effects of antipsychotic agents. Furthermore, adjuvant treatment with ALA led to a significant decrease in the levels of thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances (TBARS). The plasma/serum levels of TBARS have been demonstrated to be higher in patients with schizophrenia, being interpreted as a sign of peroxidative injury of membrane phospholipids in this mental disorder. Taken together, the present results suggest that ALA can potentially be repurposed for the adjunctive therapy of schizophrenia.