Linking resting-state networks in the prefrontal cortex to executive function: A functional near infrared spectroscopy study

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Abstract

Executive function (EF) plays vital roles in our everyday adaptation to the ever-changing environment. However, limited existing studies have linked EF to the resting-state brain activity. The functional connectivity in the resting state between the sub-regions of the brain can reveal the intrinsic neural mechanisms involved in cognitive processing of EF without disturbance from external stimuli. The present study investigated the relations between the behavioral executive function (EF) scores and the resting-state functional network topological properties in the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). We constructed complex brain functional networks in the PFC from 90 healthy young adults using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We calculated the correlations between the typical network topological properties (regional topological properties and global topological properties) and the scores of both the Total EF and components of EF measured by computer-based Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). We found that the Total EF scores were positively correlated with regional properties in the right dorsal superior frontal gyrus (SFG), whereas the opposite pattern was found in the right triangular inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Different EF components were related to different regional properties in various PFC areas, such as planning in the right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), working memory mainly in the right MFG and triangular IFG, short-term memory in the left dorsal SFG, and task switch in the right MFG. In contrast, there were no significant findings for global topological properties. Our findings suggested that the PFC plays an important role in individuals’ behavioral performance in the executive function tasks. Further, the resting-state functional network can reveal the intrinsic neural mechanisms involved in behavioral EF abilities.

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Zhao, J., Liu, J., Jiang, X., Zhou, G., Chen, G., Ding, X. P., … Lee, K. (2016). Linking resting-state networks in the prefrontal cortex to executive function: A functional near infrared spectroscopy study. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10(OCT). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00452

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