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I.

Introduction In the past 30 years new technologies have provided a way to take a noninvasive look at the cognitive processes of the human brain. With neuroimaging methods like functional magnetic resolution imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and event-related potentials (ERPs) we can take snapshots of brain matter, neurons and blood flow. With all of these technologies, we can look at which parts of the brain are active during different physical activities and cognitive processes. Another recent technology that is gaining popularity in cognitive research is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a process that induces electrical activity in the cortex, disrupting normal function for a few milliseconds (Walsh, 2003).1 rTMS is different from all of the aforementioned technology in that it is an avenue in reverse engineering in the human brains role in behavioral and cognitive functions, (Walsh, 2003). In using rTMS, the researcher simulates the independent variablethe cause, to create the dependent variablethe effect. If I am granted the Rudnicki Fellowship, I will to design and conduct a research study using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to learn more about the cognitive processes involved in overeating. Obesity is a major health concern, and understanding the cognitive processes involved in overeating will eventually lead to solutions for this problem. Current research shows that decision-making processes, including food choices, can be modulated using rTMS to specific

It is important to note here, that the effects of rTMS are too brief for reorganization to occur in

the brain, so it poses no health threat to research participants (Senior, Russell and Gazzaniga, 2006).

parts of the brain. I will work with a faculty mentor in the psychology department to come up a research design to test subjects using rTMS while they are involved in decision-making task about food choices. I plan to use the research of Camus et al. (2009) as a template for my research; however, I will expand on their research by changing either the research participant task, the research participant parameters, or the temporal processes of the rTMS. My hypothesis is that if rTMS is applied to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, then it will have a significant affect on the values assigned to the stimuli (food choices). II. Background Background on rTMS As mentioned in the introduction, there are many ways to take snapshots of the brain. So why use rTMS? This question was addressed by Senior, Russell and Gazzaniga (2006), who give several reasons why rTMS is a useful tool for brain research, three of which are as follows: 1. rTMS allows us to cause a virtual lesion, a temporary disruption of specific neural processes, thus using consequences of damage to study function. 2. rTMS allows us to study the brain of healthy patients. With rTMS the interference of neurons is transient and spatially specific. On the other hand, studying patients with brain damage has several limitations, among which are their brains may have compensated for the damage, and so do not function like a normal brain. 3. Research subjects can act as their own controls, performing cognitive tests both with and without rTMS. Another question regarding rTMS is where to apply the current. Several findings over the past 100 years have determined that the right frontal lobe of the PFC plays a crucial role in obesity (Alonso-Alonso and Pascual-Leone, 2007). In the mid-1900s doctors were performing

leucotomy surgery on patients with schizophrenia and other disorders. This surgery severs the frontal lobe from the rest of the brain. Overeating and weight gain are a common side effect among leucotomy patients with damage to their right frontal lobes, and can create a specific preference for fine food, the so-called gourmand syndrome (Regard and Landis, 1997). More recently, neuroimaging has identified hypoperfusion (decreased blood flow) in the right frontal lobe in patients with overeating conditions. Oppositely, increased blood flow in the right frontal lobe can create anorexia-like symptoms (Aries, et al., 2002). Short, et al. (2005) discovered that patients with dementia involving right frontal atrophy have abnormally increased appetites. These separate methods of sound research have garnered acceptance by experts that the right frontal lobe is critical in decision-making for food choices. Therefore, I propose to mimic the methods of Camus et al. (2009), and use the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as an application site for rTMS. Research Participant Task Design Before deciding where to stimulate with rTMS, the dependent variable (the effect) must be decided upon. In this case, the dependent variable is the results of the task given to the research participants. For instance, if the hypothesis was that participants would make less healthy food choices after receiving rTMS, then the task they perform must be expertly planned and tested for validity. According to Senior, Russell and Gazzaniga (2006) the best way to determine a dependent variable is to pay attention to previous TMS experiments and to pilot experiments extensively. They suggest doing preliminary experiments to be sure you are using the correct choice of task for the subject. If you fail to obtain an effect in an experiment it may be due to an incorrect choice of task or dependent variable rather than a true null result. Camus et al. (2009), obtained effective results with their research, so using their task in my research would

save a great deal of time in the design. However, I do have some ideas for a slightly altered task that I would discuss with a faculty mentor. III. Methodology A. Research Process 1. Independent Study Classes with Psychology Faculty Mentor A faculty mentor will be key to my success with this project, as he or she will provide the expert guidance necessary to complete the complicated research, methods and approvals involved with human research. A faculty mentor will also have access to other experts, equipment, and lab space needed for the research. The first task I will work on is to choose my task design, because this will help to better define my hypothesis. The next tasks I will take on are to 1) decide on the research participant parameters, and 2) decide on the temporal processes of the rTMS. Regarding the research participant parameters, Camus et al. (2009) used normal-weight, college-aged males, whereas my research may use overweight females, with the hypothesis that that the results will prove more highly significant. Regarding the temporal processes, Camus et al. (2009) used rTMS prior to task, this experiment may use rTMS during task, with the hypothesis that the results will prove more highly significant. 2. Course Work In the fall and spring I will take four classes to increase my knowledge in psychology research methods and cognitive neuroscience: Fall 2011 Research Methods in Psychology Statistics in Psychology Independent Research in Psychology

Spring 2012

Cognitive Psychology Psychological Tests and Measurements

3. Independent Research I will continue to study scholarly books and journal articles on cognitive neuroscience, specifically rTMS studies. I will read voraciously on the subject, hold discussions with my peers and mentors, and get advice and input from experts. I will work with a graduate student in the psychology department who is currently conducting studies using rTMS, so we can share our findings. B. George Mason University for the Location of Research I am already working in a psychology research lab administering cognitive tests for a longitudinal study on dementia. I am familiar with the lab, the equipment, the personnel who run the lab, and the faculty members involved in the research. This gives me ample opportunity to make connections with faculty mentors and gain access to needed lab space and equipment. C. General Dates of the Research: Upon receiving the award, I would immediately arrange with a faculty mentor to take an independent study class to begin on August 29, 2011. On that date I would begin the task of determining any approval we will need from the Institutional Review Board (IRBan ethics committee that gives approval for research with human subjects) for this research. Approval from the IRB can be a time-consuming process, so I would want to get started on this right away. I anticipate that it will take about 2-3 weeks to get a solid enough framework for the research in order to determine if we will need approval from the IRB. During the rest of the semester I will work out the details of my research task, advertise for research participants, and arrange for all the necessary equipment, software and space to being testing in the spring semester. I plan to

conduct testing from January through May of 2012. I anticipate testing about 2-3 participants per week for a total of about 50 participants. IV. Results In summer or fall of 2012 I would submit a paper on my research to a journal to be determined by my faculty advisor and me. I would also submit an abstract to present at one or more conferences. Depending on the outcome of my research, I may use it to apply for grant funding for research in my graduate studies.

Bibliography Alonso-Alonso, M., Pascual-Leone, A. (2007). The Right Brain Hypothesis for Obesity. JAMA, 297, 16, 1819-1822. Barry, D., Clarke, M., Petry, N. M. (2009). Obesity and Its Relationship to Addictions: Is Overeating a Form of Addictive Behavior? The American Journal on Addictions, 18: 439451. Camus, M., Halelamien, N., Plassmann, H., Shimojo, S., ODoherty, J., Camerer, C., and Range, A. (2009). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases valuations during food choices. European Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 19801988. Davis, C., Levitan, R. D., Muglia, P., Bewell, C., Kennedy, J.L. (2004). Decision-making deficits and overeating: a risk model for obesity. Obes. Res., 12, 929-935. Delparigi, A., Chen, K., Salbe, A. D., et al. (2006). Successful dieters have increased neural activity in cortical areas involved in the control of behavior. Int. J. Obes. (London), 31, 440-448. Fecteau, S., Pascual-Leone, A., Zald, D. H., Liguori, P., Theoret, H., Boggio, P., and Fregni, F. (2007). Activation of Prefrontal Cortex by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Reduces Appetite for Risk During Ambiguous Decision Making. Jour. Of Neurosci., 27(23), 6212-6218. Joranby, L., Frost Pineda, K., and Gold, M. S. (2005). Addiction to Food and Brain Reward Systems. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 12, 201217. Kraly, F. S. (2006). Brain Science and Psychological Disorders. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, New York. 210 pp.

This book has a section Dysfunctional Behaviors and Brain Processes, that includes two chapters on eating disorders: Overeating and Bulimia/Anorexia. Kraly gives a thorough and clear description of the why and where the presumed neurochemical processes occur when humans make the decision to eat. The research he uses is based on animal studies. He includes a table that indicates which neurochemicals are found and in what parts of the brain. Kraly indicates pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy as the treatments for eating disorders, and touches on transcranial magnetic stimulation as a new therapeutic approach that could complement pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. This reference will help to get an understanding of the neurochemical processes are occurring when making decisions to eat food. Senior, C., Russell, T. and Gazzaniga, M. S. (2006). Methods in Mind. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 382 pp. This book includes chapters by different authors. Chapter One is written by Lauren Stewart and Vincent Walsh, and is entitled Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Human Cognition. Stewart and Walsh use clear language to describe what TMS is, where nodes are placed for different types of studies, and what happens when the electrical currents are pulsed to different parts of the brain. They go into great detail without using too many highly technical terms. Most college students could understand this chapter. In Chapter Five, Nasir Naqvi and Antoine Bechara tell the read how skin conductance of electrical currents works. Uher, R., Treasure, J. (2005). Brain lesions and eating disorders. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry, 76, 852-857.

Van den Eynde, F., Guillaume, S., Broadbent, H., Stahl, D., Campbell, I. C., Schmidt, U., Tchanturia, K. (2011). Neurocognition in Bulimic Eating Disorders: A Systematic Review. Acta. Psychiatr. Scand., 124, 120140. Walsh, V. & Pascual-Leone, A. (2003). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A Neurometrics of Mind. MIT Press, Cambridge. 297 pp. This book is somewhat dated, as scientists have done much research in this area in the past eight years. However, the book is useful for its historical information on the use of electrical currents in the field of psychology, on up through 2003. Walsh and Pascual-Leone inform the reader that 1985 began the current era of TMS, and though it is not a how-to book, the reader might be able to learn how to perform some relatively simple TMS experiments with this book, because it goes into much detail about where the nodes are placed on the brain and how much electrical current to use and for how long. This book does not touch on the subject of decision-making regarding food choices, but it does touch on the possibility that TMS could be beneficial for disorders like depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and more. Sassi, F. (2010). Obesity and the Economics of Prevention. Organisation for Economic CoOperation and Development. 265 pp. This book includes facts and figures on obesity and the effects it is having on the health and economy in our world. It lists the myriad health and economic problems associated with eating disorders.