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Neuroimage. 2017 Feb 1;146:690-700. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.09.041. Epub 2016 Sep 18.

Variability in functional brain networks predicts expertise during action observation.

Author information

1
Department of Human Sciences, University of Udine, Italy; Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN), Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCyT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN), Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCyT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Universidad Autónoma del Caribe, Barranquilla, Colombia; Center for Social and Cognitive Neuroscience (CSCN), School of Psychology, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Santiago de Chile, Chile; Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australian Research Council (ACR), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.
3
Instituto de Estadística, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y de Administración, Universidad de la República, Uruguay.
4
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN), Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCyT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
5
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Laboratorio de Neurociencia Integrativa, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina.
6
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN), Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCyT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Faculty of Elementary and Special Education (FEEyE), National University of Cuyo (UNCuyo), Mendoza, Argentina.
7
Centro de Matemática and Centro Académico de Análisis de Big Data, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Uruguay.
8
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Laboratorio de Investigación en Neurociencia, Departamento de Matemática y Ciencias, Universidad de San Andrés, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Electronic address: dfraiman@udesa.edu.ar.

Abstract

Observing an action performed by another individual activates, in the observer, similar circuits as those involved in the actual execution of that action. This activation is modulated by prior experience; indeed, sustained training in a particular motor domain leads to structural and functional changes in critical brain areas. Here, we capitalized on a novel graph-theory approach to electroencephalographic data (Fraiman et al., 2016) to test whether variability in functional brain networks implicated in Tango observation can discriminate between groups differing in their level of expertise. We found that experts and beginners significantly differed in the functional organization of task-relevant networks. Specifically, networks in expert Tango dancers exhibited less variability and a more robust functional architecture. Notably, these expertise-dependent effects were captured within networks derived from electrophysiological brain activity recorded in a very short time window (2s). In brief, variability in the organization of task-related networks seems to be a highly sensitive indicator of long-lasting training effects. This finding opens new methodological and theoretical windows to explore the impact of domain-specific expertise on brain plasticity, while highlighting variability as a fruitful measure in neuroimaging research.

KEYWORDS:

Functional networks; Predicting expertise; Statistics on networks

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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