Brain wiring something to do with people's performance: study

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-06 06:49:42|Editor: Zhou Xin
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HOUSTON, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Researchers from the Rice University, Texas of the United States found that the way a person's brain communicates directly impacts how well they perform simple and complex tasks.

According to a news release by the Rice University on Thursday, Simon Fischer-Baum, an assistant professor of psychology in Rice's School of Social Sciences said brain regions are organized into communities with lots of connections between regions in the community and fewer connections to regions outside of the community.

Fischer-Baum, also one of the study's authors, said "people's brains are different. Some people have brains that are better described as having rigid community structure - or higher modularity - while other people have brains without such rigid community structure - or lower modularity."

Throughout the course of the study, modularity was measured on a scale from zero to one. Zero represented low modularity - brains in which every region of the brain is just as likely to communicate with any other region; one represented high modularity - brains that can be divided into communities of brain regions whose members only communicate with each other.

In the study, the researchers had 52 participants -- 16 men and 36 women -- between the ages of 18 and 26 undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a process that measures brain neural activity by detecting changes associated with blood oxygen levels.

The researchers found that participants with high-modularity brains were more successful at performing simple tasks than individuals with low-modularity brains. However, participants with low-modularity brains had greater success with complex tasks than participants with high-modularity brains.

Fischer-Baum said that this effect can be considered relative to the decline in working memory with age, which is a hallmark of the cognitive effects of aging.

Rice graduate student Qiuhai Yue is the study's lead author. Other co-authors include Fengdan Ye, a graduate student at Rice; Aurora Ramos-Nunez, a former research scientist in the Fischer-Baum lab and now an assistant professor of psychology at the College of Coastal Georgia.

The authors said the research has important implications for understanding the brain as a network.