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INTRODUCTIONPrevious neuroimaging studies have shown that working memory load has marked effects on regional neural activation[1-5]. However, the mechanism through which working memory load modulates brain connectivity is still unclear. During a working memory task, two of the most involved networks are the default mode network (DMN) and the working memory network (WMN)[6-7]: the selective focus on these networks can be useful in better understanding the load effects. Spatial independent component analysis (ICA)[8] has becomes a reliable technique to investigate the networks involved during an fMRI task, as it extracts spatiotemporal patterns of neural activity maximizing spatial independence. A specific study, conducted with ICA, investigating on how the load and phase of a working memory task are related with the activation and response time, is nowadays lacking. The aim of this work is to use the time course of DMN and WMN, selected by means of ICA, for studying: a) how these networks are involved with the complexity of the task and the phase; b) how, in these networks, complexity and phase are correlated with reaction times. METHODSMR Data Acquisition and preprocessingFifteen young adult healthy and right-handed were involved. The MR protocol consisted of one anatomical sequence 3D T1-weighted MP-RAGE (Voxel size: 1 x 1 x 1 mm) and three functional acquisitions of 15 minutes each performed with a T2*-weighted EPI sequence (TR/TE: 1500/30, In- plane resolution: 3.5x3.5 mm, Thickness: 3.5 mm, Nr of slices: 24, Field of view: 64 x 64 mm). All the images were collected with a Siemens Allegra 3T MR scanner (Siemens, Erlangen, Germany) and a standard head coil. During the fMRI acquisition the subjects performed a delayed spatial working memory paradigm presented with three levels of difficulty. The memory set consisted of one, three or five circles presented randomly in different locations and to the subjects were asked to judge whether or not a given target stimulus had been part of a previous memory stimulus set. Every experiment consisted of 90 working memory trials, 30 per load, divided in three runs. Data were analyzed with Brain Voyager QX. 2.4 (Brain Innovation, Maastricht, The Netherlands). FMRI preprocessing included: 3D head-motion correction, slice-scan time correction, spatial smoothing, temporal high pass filter and linear trend removal. Anatomic 3D data set was inhomogeneities corrected, filtered and transformed into Talairach coordinates and coregistered with the functional information.Independent Component AnalysisThis analysis was conducted using Brainvoyager QX 2.4. ICA analysis was performed on each subject’s three functional acquisitions. A subsequent total ICA group analysis[9-10] was achieved by an inter- subject ICA group analysis of all the intra-subject ICA group analysis. From the obtained maps were selected two Independent Components (ICs) containing the WMN[1,2]: WMN1 defined by SPL and Precuneus, and WMN2 with DLPFC and IPS (Fig. 1b-c). Also one IC describing the DMN was considered, with PCC, IPL and MPFC (Fig. 1a)[11]. For each run of all the subjects the ICs time course was considered: three time windows of 3TR (4.5s) for each working memory task phase (encode, maintenance and retrieval) were selected taking into account the haemodynamic response by delaying the window of 5 volumes events from the start of every trial. The window time course was corrected for a baseline value. Mean values of the ICs where examined and a subsequent correlation between the mean values and the response time in every trial was
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2013


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