Resting-State Functional Connectivity in the Dorsal Attention Network Relates to Behavioral Performance in Spatial Attention Tasks and May Show Task-Related Adaptation

Björn Machner*, Lara Braun, Jonathan Imholz, Philipp Johannes Koch, Thomas Münte, Christoph Helmchen, Andreas Sprenger

*Corresponding author for this work


Between-subject variability in cognitive performance has been related to inter-individual differences in functional brain networks. Targeting the dorsal attention network (DAN) we questioned (i) whether resting-state functional connectivity (FC) within the DAN can predict individual performance in spatial attention tasks and (ii) whether there is short-term adaptation of DAN-FC in response to task engagement. Twenty-seven participants first underwent resting-state fMRI (PRE run), they subsequently performed different tasks of spatial attention [including visual search (VS)] and immediately afterwards received another rs-fMRI (POST run). Intra- and inter-hemispheric FC between core hubs of the DAN, bilateral intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and frontal eye field (FEF), was analyzed and compared between PRE and POST. Furthermore, we investigated rs-fMRI-behavior correlations between the DAN-FC in PRE/POST and task performance parameters. The absolute DAN-FC did not change from PRE to POST. However, different significant rs-fMRI-behavior correlations were revealed for intra-/inter-hemispheric connections in the PRE and POST run. The stronger the FC between left FEF and IPS before task engagement, the better was the learning effect (improvement of reaction times) in VS (r = 0.521, p = 0.024). And the faster the VS (mean RT), the stronger was the FC between right FEF and IPS after task engagement (r = -0.502, p = 0.032). To conclude, DAN-FC relates to the individual performance in spatial attention tasks supporting the view of functional brain networks as priors for cognitive ability. Despite a high inter- and intra-individual stability of DAN-FC, the change of FC-behavior correlations after task performance possibly indicates task-related adaptation of the DAN, underlining that behavioral experiences may shape intrinsic brain activity. However, spontaneous state fluctuations of the DAN-FC over time cannot be fully ruled out as an alternative explanation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number757128
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 10.01.2022

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