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Regular version of the site
Of all publications in the section: 25
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Article
Shtyrov Y., Butorina A., Nikolaeva A. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014. Vol. 111. No. 18. P. E1918-E1923.

To address the hotly debated question of motor system involvement in language comprehension, we recorded neuromagnetic responses elicited in the human brain by unattended action-related spoken verbs and nouns and scrutinized their timecourse and neuroanatomical substrates. We found that already very early on, from ∼80 ms after disambiguation point when the words could be identified from the available acoustic information, both verbs and nouns produced characteristic somatotopic activations in the motor strip, with words related to different body parts activating the corresponding body representations. Strikingly, along with this category-specific activation, we observed suppression of motor-cortex activation by competitor words with incompatible semantics, documenting operation of the neurophysiological principles of lateral/surround inhibition in neural word processing. The extremely early onset of these activations and deactivations, their emergence in the absence of attention, and their similar presence for words of different lexical classes strongly suggest automatic involvement of motor-specific circuits in the perception of action-related language.

Added: Oct 23, 2014
Article
Van Ombergen A., Jillings S., Jeurissen B. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019. Vol. 116. No. 21. P. 10531-10536.

Long-duration spaceflight induces detrimental changes in human physiology. Its residual effects and mechanisms remain unclear. We prospectively investigated the changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume of the brain ventricular regions in space crew by means of a region of interest analysis on structural brain scans. Cosmonaut MRI data were investigated preflight (n = 11), postflight (n = 11), and at long-term follow-up 7 mo after landing (n = 7). Post hoc analyses revealed a significant difference between preflight and postflight values for all supratentorial ventricular structures, i.e., lateral ventricle (mean % change ± SE = 13.3 ± 1.9), third ventricle (mean % change ± SE = 10.4 ± 1.1), and the total ventricular volume (mean % change ± SE = 11.6 ± 1.5) (all P < 0.0001), with higher volumes at postflight. At follow-up, these structures did not quite reach baseline levels, with still residual increases in volume for the lateral ventricle (mean % change ± SE = 7.7 ± 1.6; P = 0.0009), the third ventricle (mean % change ± SE = 4.7 ± 1.3; P = 0.0063), and the total ventricular volume (mean % change ± SE = 6.4 ± 1.3; P = 0.0008). This spatiotemporal pattern of CSF compartment enlargement and recovery points to a reduced CSF resorption in microgravity as the underlying cause. Our results warrant more detailed and longer longitudinal follow-up. The clinical impact of our findings on the long-term cosmonauts’ health and their relation to ocular changes reported in space travelers requires further prospective studies.

Added: Jul 10, 2019
Article
Everett C., Blasi D., Roberts S. G. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015. Vol. 112. No. 5. P. 1322-1327.

We summarize a number of findings in laryngology demonstrating that perturbations of phonation, including increased jitter and shimmer, are associated with desiccated ambient air. We predict that, given the relative imprecision of vocal fold vibration in desiccated versus humid contexts, arid and cold ecologies should be less amenable, when contrasted to warm and humid ecologies, to the development of languages with phonemic tone, especially complex tone. This prediction is supported by data from two large independently coded databases representing 3,700+ languages. Languages with complex tonality have generally not developed in very cold or otherwise desiccated climates, in accordance with the physiologically based predictions. The predicted global geographic–linguistic association is shown to operate within continents, within major language families, and across language isolates. Our results offer evidence that human sound systems are influenced by environmental factors.

Added: Sep 18, 2020
Article
Loyalka P., Liu O. L., Li G. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019. Vol. 116. No. 14. P. 6732-6736.

We assess and compare computer science skills among final-year computer science undergraduates (seniors) in four major economic and political powers that produce approximately half of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates in the world. We find that seniors in the United States substantially outperform seniors in China, India, and Russia by 0.76–0.88 SDs and score comparably with seniors in elite institutions in these countries. Seniors in elite institutions in the United States further outperform seniors in elite institutions in China, India, and Russia by ∼0.85 SDs. The skills advantage of the United States is not because it has a large proportion of high-scoring international students. Finally, males score consistently but only moderately higher (0.16–0.41 SDs) than females within all four countries.

Added: Mar 29, 2019
Article
Mazin P., Gelfand M. S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018. P. E2477-E2486.

Polypedilum vanderplanki is a striking and unique example of an insect that can survive almost complete desiccation. Its genome and a set of dehydration-rehydration transcriptomes, together with the genome of Polypedilum nubifer (a congeneric desiccation-sensitive midge), were recently released. Here, using published and newly generated datasets reflecting detailed transcriptome changes during anhydrobiosis, as well as a developmental series, we show that the TCTAGAA DNA motif, which closely resembles the binding motif of the Drosophila melanogaster heat shock transcription activator (Hsf), is significantly enriched in the promoter regions of desiccation-induced genes in P. vanderplanki, such as genes encoding late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins, thioredoxins, or trehalose metabolism-related genes, but not in P. nubifer Unlike P. nubiferP. vanderplanki has double TCTAGAA sites upstream of the Hsf gene itself, which is probably responsible for the stronger activation of Hsf in P. vanderplanki during desiccation compared with P. nubifer To confirm the role of Hsf in desiccation-induced gene activation, we used the Pv11 cell line, derived from P. vanderplanki embryo. After preincubation with trehalose, Pv11 cells can enter anhydrobiosis and survive desiccation. We showed that Hsf knockdown suppresses trehalose-induced activation of multiple predicted Hsf targets (including P. vanderplanki-specific LEA protein genes) and reduces the desiccation survival rate of Pv11 cells fivefold. Thus, cooption of the heat shock regulatory system has been an important evolutionary mechanism for adaptation to desiccation in P. vanderplanki.

Added: Mar 5, 2018
Article
Lebedev M., Ramakrishnan A., Byun Y. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017. Vol. 114. No. 24. P. E4841-E4850.

Rewards are known to influence neural activity associated with both motor preparation and execution. This influence can be exerted directly upon the primary motor (M1) and somatosensory (S1) cortical areas via the projections from reward-sensitive dopaminergic neurons of the midbrain ventral tegmental areas. However, the neurophysiological manifestation of reward-related signals in M1 and S1 are not well understood. Particularly, it is unclear how the neurons in these cortical areas multiplex their traditional functions related to the control of spatial and temporal characteristics of movements with the representation of rewards. To clarify this issue, we trained rhesus monkeys to perform a center-out task in which arm movement direction, reward timing, and magnitude were manipulated independently. Activity of several hundred cortical neurons was simultaneously recorded using chronically implanted microelectrode arrays. Many neurons (9-27%) in both M1 and S1 exhibited activity related to reward anticipation. Additionally, neurons in these areas responded to a mismatch between the reward amount given to the monkeys and the amount they expected: A lower-than-expected reward caused a transient increase in firing rate in 60-80% of the total neuronal sample, whereas a larger-than-expected reward resulted in a decreased firing rate in 20-35% of the neurons. Moreover, responses of M1 and S1 neurons to reward omission depended on the direction of movements that led to those rewards. These observations suggest that sensorimotor cortical neuronscorepresent rewards and movement-related activity, presumably to enable reward-based learning.

Added: Dec 11, 2018
Article
Lebedev M. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019. Vol. 116. No. 43. P. 21821-21827.

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) of the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) can produce percepts that mimic somatic sensation and, thus, has potential as an approach to sensorize prosthetic limbs. However, it is not known whether ICMS could recreate active texture exploration-the ability to infer information about object texture by using one's fingertips to scan a surface. Here, we show that ICMS of S1 can convey information about the spatial frequencies of invisible virtual gratings through a process of active tactile exploration. Two rhesus monkeys scanned pairs of visually identical screen objects with the fingertip of a hand avatar-controlled first via a joystick and later via a brain-machine interface-to find the object with denser virtual gratings. The gratings consisted of evenly spaced ridges that were signaled through individual ICMS pulses generated whenever the avatar's fingertip crossed a ridge. The monkeys learned to interpret these ICMS patterns, evoked by the interplay of their voluntary movements and the virtual textures of each object, to perform a sensory discrimination task. Discrimination accuracy followed Weber's law of just-noticeable differences (JND) across a range of grating densities; a finding that matches normal cutaneous sensation. Moreover, 1 monkey developed an active scanning strategy where avatar velocity was integrated with the ICMS pulses to interpret the texture information. We propose that this approach could equip upper-limb neuroprostheses with direct access to texture features acquired during active exploration of natural objects.

Added: Nov 1, 2019
Article
Maskin E. S., Dasgupta P. S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015. Vol. 112. No. 52. P. 15769-15770.
Added: Oct 24, 2016
Article
Piai V., Anderson K., Lin J. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016.

Language is classically thought to be supported by perisylvian cortical regions. Here we provide intracranial evidence linking the hippocampal complex to linguistic processing. We used direct recordings from the hippocampal structures to investigate whether theta oscillations, pivotal in memory function, track the amount of contextual linguistic information provided in sentences. Twelve participants heard sentences that were either constrained (“She locked the door with the”) or unconstrained (“She walked in here with the”) before presentation of the final word (“key”), shown as a picture that participants had to name. Hippocampal theta power increased for constrained relative to unconstrained contexts during sentence processing, preceding picture presentation. Our study implicates hippocampal theta oscillations in a language task using natural language associations that do not require memorization. These findings reveal that the hippocampal complex contributes to language in an active fashion, relating incoming words to stored semantic knowledge, a necessary process in the generation of sentence meaning.

Added: Sep 22, 2016
Article
Темерева Е. Н. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018. Vol. 115. No. 14. P. E3211-E3220.

Cytidine deaminases of the AID/APOBEC family catalyze C-to-U nucleotide transitions in mRNA or DNA. Members of the APOBEC3 branch are involved in antiviral defense, whereas AID contributes to diversification of antibody repertoires in jawed vertebrates via somatic hypermutation, gene conversion, and class switch recombination. In the extant jawless vertebrate, the lamprey, two members of the AID/APOBEC family are implicated in the generation of somatic diversity of the variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs). Expression studies linked CDA1 and CDA2 genes to the assembly of VLRA/C genes in T-like cells and the VLRB genes in B-like cells, respectively. Here, we identify and characterize several CDA1-like genes in the larvae of different lamprey species and demonstrate that these encode active cytidine deaminases. Structural comparisons of the CDA1 variants highlighted substantial differences in surface charge; this observation is supported by our finding that the enzymes require different conditions and substrates for optimal activity in vitro. Strikingly, we also found that the number of CDA-like genes present in individuals of the same species is variable. Nevertheless, irrespective of the number of different CDA1-like genes present, all lamprey larvae have at least one functional CDA1-related gene encoding an enzyme with predicted structural and chemical features generally comparable to jawed vertebrate AID. Our findings suggest that, similar to APOBEC3 branch expansion in jawed vertebrates, the AID/ APOBEC family has undergone substantial diversification in lamprey, possibly indicative of multiple distinct biological roles.

Added: Oct 18, 2019
Article
Enikolopov R., Korovkin V., Petrova M. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013. Vol. 110. No. 2. P. 448-452.

Electoral fraud is a widespread phenomenon, especially outside the developed world. Despite abundant qualitative and anecdotal evidence on its existence from around the world, there is very limited quantitative evidence on the extent of electoral fraud. We exploit random assignment of independent observers to 156 of 3,164 polling stations in the city of Moscow to estimate the effect of electoral fraud on the outcome of the Russian parliamentary elections held on December 4, 2011. We estimate the actual share of votes for the incumbent United Russia party to be at least 11 percentage points lower than the official count (36% instead of 47%). Our results suggest that the extent of the fraud was sufficient to have had a substantial impact on the outcome of the elections; they also confirm that the presence of observers is an important factor in ensuring the integrity of the procedure.

Added: Mar 29, 2013
Article
Dipoppa M., Gutkin B. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013. Vol. 110. No. 31. P. 12828-33.

Cognitive effort leads to a seeming cacophony of brain oscillations. For example, during tasks engaging working memory (WM), specific oscillatory frequency bands modulate in space and time. Despite ample data correlating such modulation to task performance, a mechanistic explanation remains elusive. We propose that flexible control of neural oscillations provides a unified mechanism for the rapid and controlled transitions between the computational operations required by WM. We show in a spiking network model that modulating the input oscillation frequency sets the network in different operating modes: rapid memory access and load is enabled by the beta-gamma oscillations, maintaining a memory while ignoring distractors by the theta, rapid memory clearance by the alpha. The various frequency bands determine the dynamic gating regimes enabling the necessary operations for WM, whose succession explains the need for the complex oscillatory brain dynamics during effortful cognition.

Added: Dec 23, 2014
Article
Al E., Iliopoulus F., Forschak N. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2020. Vol. 117. No. 19. P. 10575-10584.

Even though humans are mostly not aware of their heartbeats, several heartbeat-related effects have been reported to influence conscious perception. It is not clear whether these effects are distinct or related phenomena, or whether they are early sensory effects or late decisional processes. Combining electroencephalography and electrocardiography, along with signal detection theory analyses, we identify two distinct heartbeat-related influences on conscious perception differentially related to early vs. late somatosensory processing. First, an effect on early sensory processing was found for the heartbeat-evoked potential (HEP), a marker of cardiac interoception. The amplitude of the prestimulus HEP negatively correlated with localization and detection of somatosensory stimuli, reflecting a more conservative detection bias (criterion). Importantly, higher HEP amplitudes were followed by decreases in early (P50) as well as late (N140, P300) somatosensory-evoked potential (SEP) amplitudes. Second, stimulus timing along the cardiac cycle also affected perception. During systole, stimuli were detected and correctly localized less frequently, relating to a shift in perceptual sensitivity. This perceptual attenuation was accompanied by the suppression of only late SEP components (P300) and was stronger for individuals with a more stable heart rate. Both heart-related effects were independent of alpha oscillations’ influence on somatosensory processing. We explain cardiac cycle timing effects in a predictive coding account and suggest that HEP-related effects might reflect spontaneous shifts between interoception and exteroception or modulations of general attentional resources. Thus, our results provide a general conceptual framework to explain how internal signals can be integrated into our conscious perception of the world.

Added: Sep 15, 2020
Article
Mazin P. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019. Vol. 116. No. 11. P. 4940-4945.

Genes coding for small peptides have been frequently misannotated as long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) genes. Here we have demonstrated that one such transcript is translated into a 56-amino-acid-long peptide conserved in chordates, corroborating the work published while this manuscript was under review. The Mtln peptide could be detected in mitochondria of mouse cell lines and tissues. In line with its mitochondrial localization, lack of the Mtln decreases the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I. Unlike the integral components and assembly factors of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase, Mtln does not alter its enzymatic activity directly. Interaction of Mtln with NADH-dependent cytochrome b5 reductase stimulates complex I functioning most likely by providing a favorable lipid composition of the membrane. Study of Mtln illuminates the importance of small peptides, whose genes might frequently be misannotated as lncRNAs, for the control of vitally important cellular processes.

Added: Oct 3, 2019
Article
Koukouli F., Changeux J., Maskos U. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016. Vol. 113. No. 51. P. 14823-14828.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays an important role in cognitive processes, including access to consciousness. The PFC receives significant cholinergic innervation and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) contribute greatly to the effects of acetylcholine signaling. Using in vivo two-photon imaging of both awake and anesthetized mice, we recorded spontaneous, ongoing neuronal activity in layer II/III in the PFC of WT mice and mice deleted for different nAChR subunits. As in humans, this activity is characterized by synchronous ultraslow fluctuations and neuronal synchronicity is disrupted by light general anesthesia. Both the α7 and β2 nAChR subunits play an important role in the generation of ultraslow fluctuations that occur to a different extent during quiet wakefulness and light general anesthesia. The β2 subunit is specifically required for synchronized activity patterns. Furthermore, chronic application of mecamylamine, an antagonist of nAChRs, disrupts the generation of ultraslow fluctuations. Our findings provide new insight into the ongoing spontaneous activity in the awake and anesthetized state, and the role of cholinergic neurotransmission in the orchestration of cognitive functions

Added: Mar 29, 2018
Article
Pino M., Altshuler B. L., Ioffe L. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015. Vol. 113. P. 536-541.
Added: Oct 21, 2016
Article
Sivak E., Smirnov I. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019. Vol. 116. No. 6. P. 2039-2041.

Gender inequality starts early in life. Parents tend to prefer boys over girls, which is manifested in reproductive behavior, marital life, and parents’ pastimes and investments in their children. While social media and sharing information about children (so-called “sharenting”) have become an integral part of parenthood, whether and how gender preference shapes the online behavior of users are not well known. In this paper we use public posts made by 635,665 users from Saint Petersburg on a popular Russian social networking site, to investigate public mentions of daughters and sons on social media. We find that both men and women mention sons more often than daughters in their posts. We also find that posts featuring sons receive more “likes” on average. Our results indicate that girls are underrepresented in parents’ digital narratives about their children, in a country with an above-average ranking on gender parity. This gender imbalance may send a message that girls are less important than boys or that they deserve less attention, thus reinforcing gender inequality from an early age.

Added: Jan 25, 2019
Article
Acemoglu D., Egorov G., Sonin K. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011. No. 108. P. 21292-21296.

Almost all democratic societies evolved socially and politically out of authoritarian and nondemocratic regimes. These changes not only altered the allocation of economic resources in society but also the structure of political power. In this paper, we develop a framework for studying the dynamics of political and social change. The society consists of agents that care about current and future social arrangements and economic allocations; allocation of political power determines who has the capacity to implement changes in economic allocations and future allocations of power. The set of available social rules and allocations at any point in time is stochastic. We show that political and social change may happen without any stochastic shocks or as a result of a shock destabilizing an otherwise stable social arrangement. Crucially, the process of social change is contingent (and history-dependent): the timing and sequence of stochastic events determine the long-run equilibrium social arrangements. For example, the extent of democratization may depend on how early uncertainty about the set of feasible reforms in the future is resolved.

Added: Oct 24, 2013
Article
Turchin P., Currie T. E., Whitehouse H. et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018. Vol. 115. No. 2. P. E144-E151.

Do human societies from around the world exhibit similarities in the way that they are structured, and show commonalities in the ways that they have evolved? These are long-standing questions that have proven difficult to answer. To test between competing hypotheses, we constructed a massive repository of historical and archaeological information known as “Seshat: Global History Databank.” We systematically coded data on 414 societies from 30 regions around the world spanning the last 10,000 years. We were able to capture information on 51 variables reflecting nine characteristics of human societies, such as social scale, economy, features of governance, and information systems. Our analyses revealed that these different characteristics show strong relationships with each other and that a single principal component captures around threequarters of the observed variation. Furthermore, we found that different characteristics of social complexity are highly predictable across different world regions. These results suggest that key aspects of social organization are functionally related and do indeed coevolve in predictable ways. Our findings highlight the power of the sciences and humanities working together to rigorously test hypotheses about general rules that may have shaped human history.

Added: Jul 21, 2018
Article
Korotayev A. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017.

Do human societies from around the world exhibit similarities in the way that they are structured, and show commonalities in the ways that they have evolved? These are long-standing questions that have proven difficult to answer. To test between competing hypotheses, we constructed a massive repository of historical and archaeological information known as “Seshat: Global History Databank.” We systematically coded data on 414 societies from 30 regions around the world spanning the last 10,000 years. We were able to capture information on 51 variables reflecting nine characteristics of human societies, such as social scale, economy, features of governance, and information systems. Our analyses revealed that these different characteristics show strong relationships with each other and that a single principal component captures around threequarters of the observed variation. Furthermore, we found that different characteristics of social complexity are highly predictable across different world regions. These results suggest that key aspects of social organization are functionally related and do indeed coevolve in predictable ways. Our findings highlight the power of the sciences and humanities working together to rigorously test hypotheses about general rules that may have shaped human history.

Added: Jan 31, 2018
Article
Maltseva D., Tonevitsky A. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017. Vol. 114. No. 13. P. E2758-E2765.

Sterile (noninfected) inflammation underlies the pathogenesis of many widespread diseases, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. The evolutionarily conserved innate immune system is considered to play a key role in tissue injury recognition and the subsequent development of sterile inflammation; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not yet completely under- stood. Here, we show that cholesterol sulfate, a molecule present in relatively high concentrations in the epithelial layer of barrier tis- sues, is selectively recognized by Mincle (Clec4e), a C-type lectin re- ceptor of the innate immune system that is strongly up-regulated in response to skin damage. Mincle activation by cholesterol sulfate causes the secretion of a range of proinflammatory mediators, and s.c. injection of cholesterol sulfate results in a Mincle-mediated in- duction of a severe local inflammatory response. In addition, our study reveals a role of Mincle as a driving component in the path- ogenesis of allergic skin inflammation. In a well-established model of allergic contact dermatitis, the absence of Mincle leads to a sig- nificant suppression of the magnitude of the skin inflammatory re- sponse as assessed by changes in ear thickness, myeloid cell infiltration, and cytokine and chemokine secretion. Taken together, our results provide a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying sterile inflammation.

Added: Apr 16, 2020
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