Prefrontal cortex structure predicts training-induced improvements in multitasking performance

Verghese, Ashika, Garner, K. G., Mattingley, Jason B. and Dux, Paul E. (2016) Prefrontal cortex structure predicts training-induced improvements in multitasking performance. Journal of Neuroscience, 36 9: 2638-2645. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3410-15.2016

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Author Verghese, Ashika
Garner, K. G.
Mattingley, Jason B.
Dux, Paul E.
Title Prefrontal cortex structure predicts training-induced improvements in multitasking performance
Journal name Journal of Neuroscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1529-2401
0270-6474
Publication date 2016-03-02
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3410-15.2016
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 36
Issue 9
Start page 2638
End page 2645
Total pages 8
Place of publication Washington, DC United States
Publisher Society for Neuroscience
Language eng
Subject 2800 Neuroscience
Abstract The ability to perform multiple, concurrent tasks efficiently is a much-desired cognitive skill, but one that remains elusive due to the brain’s inherent information-processing limitations. Multitasking performance can, however, be greatly improved through cognitive training (Van Selst et al., 1999, Dux et al., 2009). Previous studies have examined how patterns of brain activity change following training (for review, see Kelly and Garavan, 2005). Here, in a large-scale human behavioral and imaging study of 100 healthy adults, we tested whether multitasking training benefits, assessed using a standard dual-task paradigm, are associated with variability in brain structure. We found that the volume of the rostral part of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) predicted an individual’s response to training. Critically, this association was observed exclusively in a task-specific training group, and not in an active-training control group. Our findings reveal a link between DLPFC structure and an individual’s propensity to gain from training on a task that taps the limits of cognitive control.
Formatted abstract
The ability to perform multiple, concurrent tasks efficiently is a much-desired cognitive skill, but one that remains elusive due to the brain's inherent information-processing limitations. Multitasking performance can, however, be greatly improved through cognitive training (Van Selst et al., 1999, Dux et al., 2009). Previous studies have examined how patterns of brain activity change following training (for review, see Kelly and Garavan, 2005). Here, in a large-scale human behavioral and imaging study of 100 healthy adults, we tested whether multitasking training benefits, assessed using a standard dual-task paradigm, are associated with variability in brain structure. We found that the volume of the rostral part of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) predicted an individual's response to training. Critically, this association was observed exclusively in a task-specific training group, and not in an active-training control group. Our findings reveal a link between DLPFC structure and an individual's propensity to gain from training on a task that taps the limits of cognitive control.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Cognitive “brain” training is a rapidly growing, multibillion dollar industry (Hayden, 2012) that has been touted as the panacea for a variety of disorders that result in cognitive decline. A key process targeted by such training is “cognitive control.” Here, we combined an established cognitive control measure, multitasking ability, with structural brain imaging in a sample of 100 participants. Our goal was to determine whether individual differences in brain structure predict the extent to which people derive measurable benefits from a cognitive training regime. Ours is the first study to identify a structural brain marker—volume of left hemisphere dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—associated with the magnitude of multitasking performance benefits induced by training at an individual level.
Keyword Attention
Individual differences
MRI
Multitasking
Training
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID DP140100266
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Created: Tue, 15 Mar 2016, 10:27:58 EST by System User on behalf of School of Psychology