Brain Activity at Rest Provides Clue to Intelligence

Summary: A new study reports our level of brain activity while at rest is linked to our ability to perform well in cognitive tests.

Source: UNSW.

The ability of an adult to learn and to perform cognitive tests is directly linked to how active the brain is at rest, UNSW researchers have found.

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The relationship between voxel-based metrics of resting state functional connectivity and cognitive performance in cognitively healthy elderly adults

In previous studies, resting-state functional connectivity (FC) metrics of specific brain regions or networks based on prior hypotheses have been correlated with cognitive performance. Without constraining our analyses to specific regions or networks, we employed whole-brain voxel-based weighted degree (WD), a measure of local FC strength, to be correlated with three commonly used neuropsychological assessments of language, executive function and memory retrieval in both positive and negative directions in 67 cognitively healthy elderly adults. We also divided voxel-based WD into short-ranged and long-ranged WDs to evaluate the influence of FC distance on the WD-cognition relationship, and performed three validation tests. Our results showed that for language and executive function tests, positive WD correlates were located in the frontal and temporal cortices, and negative WD correlates in the precuneus and occipital cortices; for memory retrieval, positive WD correlates were located in the inferior temporal cortices, and negative WD correlates in the anterior cingulate cortices and supplementary motor areas. An FC-distance-dependent effect was also observed, with the short-ranged WD correlates of language and executive function tests located in the medial brain regions and the long-ranged WD correlates in the lateral regions. Our findings suggest that inter-individual differences in FC at rest are predictive of cognitive ability in the elderly adults. Moreover, the distinct patterns of positive and negative WD correlates of cognitive performance recapitulate the dichotomy between task-activated and task-deactivated neural systems, implying that a competition between distinct neural systems on functional network topology may have cognitive relevance.

Source: Lucy Carroll – UNSW Publisher: Organized by Image Source: image is adapted from the UNSW news release. Original Research: Abstract in Brain Imaging and Behavior. doi:10.1007/s11682-018-9843-y