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Haupt, Marleen ORCID: 0000-0003-1683-8679; Ruiz-Rizzo, Adriana L. ORCID: 0000-0003-1467-0745; Sorg, Christian; Finke, Kathrin ORCID: 0000-0001-8546-7141 (1. August 2019): Phasic alerting effects on visual processing speed are associated with intrinsic functional connectivity in the cingulo-opercular network. In: Neuroimage, Vol. 196: pp. 216-226
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Abstract

Phasic alertness refers to short-lived increases in the brain's "state of readiness", and thus to optimized performance following warning cues. Parametric modelling of whole report task performance based on the computational theory of visual attention (TVA) has demonstrated that visual processing speed is increased in such cue compared to no-cue conditions. Furthermore, with respect to the underlying neural mechanisms, individual visual processing speed has been related to intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) within the cingulo-opercular network, suggesting that this networks iFC is relevant for the tonic maintenance of an appropriate readiness or alertness state. In the present study, we asked whether iFC in the cingulo-opercular network is also related to the individual ability to actively profit from warning cues, i.e. to the degree of phasic alerting. We obtained resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data from 32 healthy young participants and combined an independent component analysis of rs-fMRI time courses and dual regression approach to determine iFC in the cingulo-opercular network. In a separate behavioural testing session, we parametrically assessed the effects of auditory phasic alerting cues on visual processing speed in a TVA-based whole report paradigm. A voxel-wise multiple regression revealed that higher individual phasic alerting effects on visual processing speed were significantly associated with lower iFC in the cingulo-opercular network, with a peak in the left superior orbital gyrus. As phasic alertness was neither related to iFC in other attention-relevant, auditory, or visual networks nor associated with any inter-network connectivity pattern, the results suggest that the individual profit in visual processing speed gained from phasic alerting is primarily associated with iFC in the cingulo-opercular network.