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Effective connectivity among the working memory regions during preparation for and during performance of the n-back task.

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2014, 00:00 by Anna Manelis, Lynne Reder

Recent neuroimaging studies have shown that working memory (WM) task difficulty can be decoded from patterns of brain activation in the WM network during preparation to perform those tasks. The inter-regional connectivity among the WM regions during task preparation has not yet been investigated. We examined this question using the graph modeling methods IMaGES and LOFS, applied to the previously published fMRI data of Manelis and Reder (2013). In that study, subjects performed 1-, 2-, and 3-back tasks. Each block of n-back was preceded by a preparation period and followed by a rest period. The analyses of task-related brain activity identified a network of 18 regions that increased in activation from 1- to 3-back (Increase network) and a network of 17 regions that decreased in activation from 1- to 3-back (Decrease network). The graph analyses revealed two types of connectivity sub-networks within the Increase and Decrease networks: "default" and "preparation-related." The "default" connectivity was present not only during task performance, but also during task preparation and during rest. We propose that this sub-network may serve as a core system that allows one to quickly activate cognitive, perceptual and motor systems in response to the relevant stimuli. The "preparation-related" connectivity was present during task preparation and task performance, but not at rest, and depended on the n-back condition. The role of this sub-network may be to pre-activate a connectivity "road map" in order to establish a top-down and bottom-up regulation of attention prior to performance on WM tasks.


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2014 Manelis and Reder