PLoS ONE (2015-01-01)

Task-switching Cost and Intrinsic Functional Connectivity in the Human Brain: Toward Understanding Individual Differences in Cognitive Flexibility.

  • Shouhang Yin,
  • Ting Wang,
  • Weigang Pan,
  • Yijun Liu,
  • Antao Chen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 12
p. e0145826


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The human ability to flexibly alternate between tasks (i.e., task-switching) represents a critical component of cognitive control. Many functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have explored the neural basis of the task-switching. However, no study to date has examined how individual differences in intrinsic functional architecture of the human brain are related to that of the task-switching. In the present study, we took 11 task-switching relevant areas from a meta-analysis study as the regions of interests (ROIs) and estimated their intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) with the whole brain. This procedure was repeated for 32 healthy adults based upon their fMRI scans during resting-state (rfMRI) to investigate the correlations between switching cost and the iFC strength across these participants. This analysis found that switch cost was negatively correlated with a set of iFC involved ROIs including left inferior frontal junction, bilateral superior posterior parietal cortex, left precuneus, bilateral inferior parietal lobule, right middle frontal gyrus and bilateral middle occipital gyrus. These connectivity profiles represent an intrinsic functional architecture of task-switching where the left inferior frontal junction plays a hub role in this brain-behavior association. These findings are highly reproducible in another validation independent sample and provide a novel perspective for understanding the neural basis of individual differences in task-switching behaviors reflected in the intrinsic architecture of the human brain.