Master's Programme in Cognitive Neuroscience
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Revised theses:


Syntactic priming in German-English bilinguals during sentence comprehension: RT and fMRI studies

Kirsten Weber

During reading we have to process the syntactic structure of the sentences in front of us. Thus, if we process sentences in two different languages, for example German and English, do we access and use the same syntactic information for both languages if the structures are similar? In this study we show that on the neural level sentences in the first and in the second language (L1 and L2) are processed in the same neural areas in left inferior frontal and left temporal regions indicating a shared sentence processing system. Moreover, we use a syntactic priming paradigm in comprehension to establish interaction between the L1 and L2. We find behavioural evidence of syntactic priming in comprehension within the L2 as well as a possible word-order effect from L2 into L1. At the neural level we are not able to demonstrate syntactic priming. Possible implications of this negative finding are discussed.

Keywords: Syntactic priming, Bilingualism, Sentence Comprehension, fMRI adaptation

The influence of dietary lipids on cognition, cerebral blood volume and amyloid pathology in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Yael Reijmer

High serum cholesterol and low docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, how these parameters influence the pathology is still a topic of debate. The present study assessed the influence of a cholesterol (typical western diet: TWD) and a DHA containing diet on spatial memory, amyloid beta (Aβ) deposition and relative cerebral blood volume (rCBV) in a 15-month-old APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and wildtype littermates. rCBV was determined by contrast enhanced MRI and Aβ deposition by using immunohistochemistry. APP/PS1 mice showed impaired spatial learning and memory in the Morris Water Maze test. Furthermore, transgenic mice showed a decrease in cortical rCBV. The cholesterol enriched TWD diet decreased the rCBV in the cortex compared to a standard diet in both APP/PS1 and control mice without affecting Aβ deposition. APP/PS1 mice on a DHA diet showed a decrease in vascular Aβ deposition and improved memory performance. In conclusion, these results show disease relevant behavioural and cognitive changes in an APP/PS1 mouse model accompanied by a decrease in rCBV. This study further indicates an important role for dietary lipids in the development of Alzheimer’s disease by influencing the rCBV and vascular Aβ.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, APP/PS1, amyloid beta, cerebral blood volume, hypoperfusion, DHA, cholesterol

Unrevised theses:

Jiun Youn (zip, 146 kB)

Birgit Knudsen (zip, 7 MB)

Maarten van der Heijden (zip, 1 MB)