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Electrophysiological evidence for impaired auditory sensory memory in Cystinosis despite typical sensory processing: An MMN investigation

By Ana A. Francisco, John J. Foxe, Douwe J Horsthuis, Sophie Molholm

Posted 28 Aug 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/747642

Cystinosis, a genetic rare disease characterized by cystine accumulation and crystallization, results in significant damage in a multitude of tissues and organs, such as the kidney, thyroid, eye, and brain. While Cystinosis' impact on brain function is relatively mild compared to its effects on other organs, the increased lifespan of this population and thus potential for productive societal contributions have led to increased interest on the effects on brain function. Nevertheless, and despite some evidence of structural brain differences, the neural impact of the mutation is still not well characterized. Here, using a passive duration oddball paradigm (with different stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs), representing different levels of demand on memory) and high-density electrophysiology, we tested basic auditory processing in a group of 22 children and adolescents diagnosed with Cystinosis (age range: 6-17 years old) and in neurotypical age-matched controls (N=24). We examined whether the N1 and mismatch negativity (MMN) significantly differed between the groups and if those neural measures correlated with verbal and non-verbal IQ. Individuals diagnosed with Cystinosis presented similar N1 responses to their age-matched peers, indicating typical basic auditory processing in this population. However, whereas both groups showed similar MMN responses for the shortest (450ms) SOA, suggesting intact change detection and sensory memory, individuals diagnosed with Cystinosis presented clearly reduced responses for the longer (900ms and 1800ms) SOAs. This could indicate reduced duration auditory sensory memory traces, and thus sensory memory impairment, in children and adolescents diagnosed with Cystinosis. Future work addressing other aspects of sensory and working memory is needed to understand the underlying bases of the differences described here, and their implication for higher order processing.

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