Thursday, March 08, 2012

Our brain connectivity predicts perceptual task performance.

An MRI scan may soon be part of the interview process for jobs requiring skill at learning and performing novel tasks...Baldassarre et al. do fMRI measurements showing that certain patterns of resting state functional connectivity within visual cortex, and between visual cortex and higher-order cortical regions - before exposure to a novel perceptual task - represent neural predictors of individual differences in performing that task. Further, the topography of the prior connectivity coincides with the areas subsequently recruited by task performance. Here is their abstract:
People differ in their ability to perform novel perceptual tasks, both during initial exposure and in the rate of improvement with practice. It is also known that regions of the brain recruited by particular tasks change their activity during learning. Here we investigate neural signals predictive of individual variability in performance. We used resting-state functional MRI to assess functional connectivity before training on a novel visual discrimination task. Subsequent task performance was related to functional connectivity measures within portions of visual cortex and between visual cortex and prefrontal association areas. Our results indicate that individual differences in performing novel perceptual tasks can be related to individual differences in spontaneous cortical activity.

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