Aging and Network Properties: Stability Over Time and Links with Learning during Working Memory Training.
ABSTRACT: Growing evidence suggests that healthy aging affects the configuration of large-scale functional brain networks. This includes reducing network modularity and local efficiency. However, the stability of these effects over time and their potential role in learning remain poorly understood. The goal of the present study was to further clarify previously reported age effects on "resting-state" networks, to test their reliability over time, and to assess their relation to subsequent learning during training. Resting-state fMRI data from 23 young (YA) and 20 older adults (OA) were acquired in 2 sessions 2 weeks apart. Graph-theoretic analyses identified both consistencies in network structure and differences in module composition between YA and OA, suggesting topological changes and less stability of functional network configuration with aging. Brain-wide, OA showed lower modularity and local efficiency compared to YA, consistent with the idea of age-related functional dedifferentiation, and these effects were replicable over time. At the level of individual networks, OA consistently showed greater participation and lower local efficiency and within-network connectivity in the cingulo-opercular network, as well as lower intra-network connectivity in the default-mode network and greater participation of the somato-sensorimotor network, suggesting age-related differential effects at the level of specialized brain modules. Finally, brain-wide network properties showed associations, albeit limited, with learning rates, as assessed with 10 days of computerized working memory training administered after the resting-state sessions, suggesting that baseline network configuration may influence subsequent learning outcomes. Identification of neural mechanisms associated with learning-induced plasticity is important for further clarifying whether and how such changes predict the magnitude and maintenance of training gains, as well as the extent and limits of cognitive transfer in both younger and older adults.
Project description:We recently reported that young adults (YA) preferentially recruit cerebellar lobule HVI for symbolic motor sequence learning . Learning magnitude in the symbolic condition was correlated with activation level in lobule HVI. Here, we evaluated age differences in the symbolic representation of motor sequence learning. Fourteen YA and 14 older adults (OA) performed the alternating serial reaction time task (ASRT) under conditions in which the spatial processing component was selectively eliminated from stimulus presentation (spatial versus symbolic), response execution (manual versus vocal), or both. Results showed that OA had reduced learning magnitudes relative to YA. Using the cerebellum lobule HVI as a region-of-interest, we found that OA had significantly lower activation in this region than YA during the symbolic learning conditions (FWE, P<0.05). Similar to YA, OA also showed a significant correlation between learning magnitude and cerebellar activation in the symbolic conditions. These results suggest that although YA and OA recruit similar neural networks during implicit learning, OA under-recruit relevant brain areas which may partially explain their implicit sequence learning deficits.
Project description:The brain operates via networked activity in separable groups of regions called modules. The quantification of modularity compares the number of connections within and between modules, with high modularity indicating greater segregation, or dense connections within sub-networks and sparse connections between sub-networks. Previous work has demonstrated that baseline brain network modularity predicts executive function outcomes in older adults and patients with traumatic brain injury after cognitive and exercise interventions. In healthy young adults, however, the functional significance of brain modularity in predicting training-related cognitive improvements is not fully understood. Here, we quantified brain network modularity in young adults who underwent cognitive training with casual video games that engaged working memory and reasoning processes. Network modularity assessed at baseline was positively correlated with training-related improvements on untrained tasks. The relationship between baseline modularity and training gain was especially evident in initially lower performing individuals and was not present in a group of control participants that did not show training-related gains. These results suggest that a more modular brain network organization may allow for greater training responsiveness. On a broader scale, these findings suggest that, particularly in low-performing individuals, global network properties can capture aspects of brain function that are important in understanding individual differences in learning.
Project description:Artistic training is a complex learning that requires the meticulous orchestration of sophisticated polysensory, motor, cognitive, and emotional elements of mental capacity to harvest an aesthetic creation. In this study, we investigated the architecture of the resting-state functional connectivity networks from professional painters, dancers and pianists. Using a graph-based network analysis, we focused on the art-related changes of modular organization and functional hubs in the resting-state functional connectivity network. We report that the brain architecture of artists consists of a hierarchical modular organization where art-unique and artistic form-specific brain states collectively mirror the mind states of virtuosos. We show that even in the resting state, this type of extraordinary and long-lasting training can macroscopically imprint a neural network system of spontaneous activity in which the related brain regions become functionally and topologically modularized in both domain-general and domain-specific manners. The attuned modularity reflects a resilient plasticity nurtured by long-term experience.
Project description:Individual differences in general cognitive ability (i.e., intelligence) have been linked to individual variations in the modular organization of functional brain networks. However, these analyses have been limited to static (time-averaged) connectivity, and have not yet addressed whether dynamic changes in the configuration of brain networks relate to general intelligence. Here, we used multiband functional MRI resting-state data (N?=?281) and estimated subject-specific time-varying functional connectivity networks. Modularity optimization was applied to determine individual time-variant module partitions and to assess fluctuations in modularity across time. We show that higher intelligence, indexed by an established composite measure, the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), is associated with higher temporal stability (lower temporal variability) of brain network modularity. Post-hoc analyses reveal that subjects with higher intelligence scores engage in fewer periods of extremely high modularity - which are characterized by greater disconnection of task-positive from task-negative networks. Further, we show that brain regions of the dorsal attention network contribute most to the observed effect. In sum, our study suggests that investigating the temporal dynamics of functional brain network topology contributes to our understanding of the neural bases of general cognitive abilities.
Project description:We tested the value of measuring modularity, a graph theory metric indexing the relative extent of integration and segregation of distributed functional brain networks, for predicting individual differences in response to cognitive training in patients with brain injury.Patients with acquired brain injury (n = 11) participated in 5 weeks of cognitive training and a comparison condition (brief education) in a crossover intervention study design. We quantified the measure of functional brain network organization, modularity, from functional connectivity networks during a state of tonic attention regulation measured during fMRI scanning before the intervention conditions. We examined the relationship of baseline modularity with pre- to posttraining changes in neuropsychological measures of attention and executive control.The modularity of brain network organization at baseline predicted improvement in attention and executive function after cognitive training, but not after the comparison intervention. Individuals with higher baseline modularity exhibited greater improvements with cognitive training, suggesting that a more modular baseline network state may contribute to greater adaptation in response to cognitive training.Brain network properties such as modularity provide valuable information for understanding mechanisms that influence rehabilitation of cognitive function after brain injury, and may contribute to the discovery of clinically relevant biomarkers that could guide rehabilitation efforts.
Project description:Functionally related brain networks are engaged even in the absence of an overt behavior. The role of this resting state activity, evident as low-frequency fluctuations of BOLD (see  for review, [2-4]) or electrical [5, 6] signals, is unclear. Two major proposals are that resting state activity supports introspective thought or supports responses to future events . An alternative perspective is that the resting brain actively and selectively processes previous experiences . Here we show that motor learning can modulate subsequent activity within resting networks. BOLD signal was recorded during rest periods before and after an 11 min visuomotor training session. Motor learning but not motor performance modulated a fronto-parietal resting state network (RSN). Along with the fronto-parietal network, a cerebellar network not previously reported as an RSN was also specifically altered by learning. Both of these networks are engaged during learning of similar visuomotor tasks [9-22]. Thus, we provide the first description of the modulation of specific RSNs by prior learning--but not by prior performance--revealing a novel connection between the neuroplastic mechanisms of learning and resting state activity. Our approach may provide a powerful tool for exploration of the systems involved in memory consolidation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Functional dysconnectivity has been proposed as a major pathophysiological mechanism for cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. The hippocampus is a focal point of dysconnectivity in schizophrenia, with decreased hippocampal functional connectivity contributing to the marked memory deficits observed in patients. Normal memory function relies on the interaction of complex corticohippocampal networks. However, only recent technological advances have enabled the large-scale exploration of functional networks with accuracy and precision. METHODS:We investigated the modularity of hippocampal resting-state functional networks in a sample of 45 patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and 38 healthy control subjects. Modularity was calculated for two distinct functional networks: a core hippocampal-medial temporal lobe cortex network and an extended hippocampal-cortical network. As hippocampal function differs along its longitudinal axis, follow-up analyses examined anterior and posterior networks separately. To explore effects of resting network function on behavior, we tested associations between modularity and relational memory ability. Age, sex, handedness, and parental education were similar between groups. RESULTS:Network modularity was lower in schizophrenia patients, especially in the posterior hippocampal network. Schizophrenia patients also showed markedly lower relational memory ability compared with control subjects. We found a distinct brain-behavior relationship in schizophrenia that differed from control subjects by network and anterior/posterior division-while relational memory in control subjects was associated with anterior hippocampal-cortical modularity, schizophrenia patients showed an association with posterior hippocampal-medial temporal lobe cortex network modularity. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings support a model of abnormal resting-state corticohippocampal network coherence in schizophrenia, which may contribute to relational memory deficits.
Project description:There is a growing interest in studies of human brain networks using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). However, it is unclear whether and how brain networks measured during the resting-state exhibit comparable properties to brain networks during task performance. In the present study, we investigated meta-analytic coactivation patterns among brain regions based upon published neuroimaging studies, and compared the coactivation network configurations with those in the resting-state network. The strength of resting-state functional connectivity between two regions were strongly correlated with the coactivation strength. However, the coactivation network showed greater global efficiency, smaller mean clustering coefficient, and lower modularity compared with the resting-state network, which suggest a more efficient global information transmission and between system integrations during task performing. Hub shifts were also observed within the thalamus and the left inferior temporal cortex. The thalamus and the left inferior temporal cortex exhibited higher and lower degrees, respectively in the coactivation network compared with the resting-state network. These results shed light regarding the reconfiguration of the brain networks between task and resting-state conditions, and highlight the role of the thalamus in change of network configurations in task vs. rest.
Project description:Modularity is a fundamental concept in systems neuroscience, referring to the formation of local cliques or modules of densely intra-connected nodes that are sparsely inter-connected with nodes in other modules. Topological modularity of brain functional networks can quantify theoretically anticipated abnormality of brain network community structure - so-called dysmodularity - in developmental disorders such as childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS). We used graph theory to investigate topology of networks derived from resting-state fMRI data on 13 COS patients and 19 healthy volunteers. We measured functional connectivity between each pair of 100 regional nodes, focusing on wavelet correlation in the frequency interval 0.05-0.1?Hz, then applied global and local thresholding rules to construct graphs from each individual association matrix over the full range of possible connection densities. We show how local thresholding based on the minimum spanning tree facilitates group comparisons of networks by forcing the connectedness of sparse graphs. Threshold-dependent graph theoretical results are compatible with the results of a k-means unsupervised learning algorithm and a multi-resolution (spin glass) approach to modularity, both of which also find community structure but do not require thresholding of the association matrix. In general modularity of brain functional networks was significantly reduced in COS, due to a relatively reduced density of intra-modular connections between neighboring regions. Other network measures of local organization such as clustering were also decreased, while complementary measures of global efficiency and robustness were increased, in the COS group. The group differences in complex network properties were mirrored by differences in simpler statistical properties of the data, such as the variability of the global time series and the internal homogeneity of the time series within anatomical regions of interest.
Project description:Introduction: Brain network modularity is a principle that quantifies the degree to which functional brain networks are divided into subnetworks. Higher modularity reflects a greater number of within-module connections and fewer connections between modules, and a highly modular brain is often interpreted as a brain that contains highly specialized brain networks with less integration between networks. Recent work in younger and older adults has demonstrated that individual differences in brain network modularity at baseline can predict improvements in performance after cognitive and physical interventions. The use of brain network modularity as a predictor of training outcomes has not yet been examined in children. Method: In the present study, we examined the relationship between baseline brain network modularity and changes (post-intervention performance minus pre-intervention performance) in cognitive and academic performance in 8- to 9-year-old children who participated in an after-school physical activity intervention for 9 months (N = 78) as well as in children in a wait-list control group (N = 72). Results: In children involved in the after-school physical activity intervention, higher modularity of brain networks at baseline predicted greater improvements in cognitive performance for tasks of executive function, cognitive efficiency, and mathematics achievement. There were no associations between baseline brain network modularity and performance changes in the wait-list control group. Discussion: Our study has implications for biomarkers of cognitive plasticity in children. Understanding predictors of cognitive performance and academic progress during child development may facilitate the effectiveness of interventions aimed to improve cognitive and brain health.