Long-range functional interactions of anterior insula and medial frontal cortex are differently modulated by visuospatial and inductive reasoning tasks.
Ebisch SJ., Mantini D., Romanelli R., Tommasi M., Perrucci MG., Romani GL., Colom R., Saggino A.
The brain is organized into functionally specific networks as characterized by intrinsic functional relationships within discrete sets of brain regions. However, it is poorly understood whether such functional networks are dynamically organized according to specific task-states. The anterior insular cortex (aIC)-dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC)/medial frontal cortex (mFC) network has been proposed to play a central role in human cognitive abilities. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study aimed at testing whether functional interactions of the aIC-dACC/mFC network in terms of temporally correlated patterns of neural activity across brain regions are dynamically modulated by transitory, ongoing task demands. For this purpose, functional interactions of the aIC-dACC/mFC network are compared during two distinguishable fluid reasoning tasks, Visualization and Induction. The results show an increased functional coupling of bilateral aIC with visual cortices in the occipital lobe during the Visualization task, whereas coupling of mFC with right anterior frontal cortex was enhanced during the Induction task. These task-specific modulations of functional interactions likely reflect ability related neural processing. Furthermore, functional connectivity strength between right aIC and right dACC/mFC reliably predicts general task performance. The findings suggest that the analysis of long-range functional interactions may provide complementary information about brain-behavior relationships. On the basis of our results, it is proposed that the aIC-dACC/mFC network contributes to the integration of task-common and task-specific information based on its within-network as well as its between-network dynamic functional interactions.