Investigating the Neural Bases for Intra-Subject Cognitive Efficiency Changes using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging



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Frontiers Research Foundation


Several fMRI studies have examined brain regions mediating inter-subject variability in cognitive efficiency, but none have examined regions mediating intra-subject variability in efficiency. Thus, the present study was designed to identify brain regions involved in intra-subject variability in cognitive efficiency via participant-level correlations between trial-level reaction time (RT) and trial-level fMRI BOLD percent signal change on a processing speed task. On each trial, participants indicated whether a digit-symbol probe-pair was present or absent in an array of nine digit-symbol probe-pairs while fMRI data were collected. Deconvolution analyses, using RT time-series models (derived from the proportional scaling of an event-related hemodynamic response function model by trial-level RT), were used to evaluate relationships between trial-level RTs and BOLD percent signal change. Although task-related patterns of activation and deactivation were observed in regions including bilateral occipital, bilateral parietal, portions of the medial wall such as the precuneus, default mode network regions including anterior cingulate, posterior cingulate, bilateral temporal, right cerebellum, and right cuneus, RT-BOLD correlations were observed in a more circumscribed set of regions. Positive RT-BOLD correlations, where fast RTs were associated with lower BOLD percent signal change, were observed in regions including bilateral occipital, bilateral parietal, and the precuneus. RT-BOLD correlations were not observed in the default mode network indicating a smaller set of regions associated with intra-subject variability in cognitive efficiency. The results are discussed in terms of a distributed area of regions that mediate variability in the cognitive efficiency that might underlie processing speed differences between individuals.



Digit-Symbol Verification Task (DSVT), Voxels, Cognitive efficiency, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Percent signal change


CC BY 4.0 (Attribution), ©2014 The Authors