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Neuroimage. 2019 Apr 1;189:560-573. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.01.067. Epub 2019 Jan 30.

EEG microstates distinguish between cognitive components of fluid reasoning.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Institute of Advanced Biomedical Technologies (ITAB), G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
2
School of Medicine and Health Sciences, G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy.
4
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
5
Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Institute of Advanced Biomedical Technologies (ITAB), G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy. Electronic address: s.ebisch@unich.it.

Abstract

Fluid reasoning is considered central to general intelligence. How its psychometric structure relates to brain function remains poorly understood. For instance, what is the dynamic composition of ability-specific processes underlying fluid reasoning? We investigated whether distinct fluid reasoning abilities could be differentiated by electroencephalography (EEG) microstate profiles. EEG microstates specifically capture rapidly altering activity of distributed cortical networks with a high temporal resolution as scalp potential topographies that dynamically vary over time in an organized manner. EEG was recorded simultaneously with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in twenty healthy adult participants during cognitively distinct fluid reasoning tasks: induction, spatial relationships and visualization. Microstate parameters successfully discriminated between fluid reasoning and visuomotor control tasks as well as between the fluid reasoning tasks. Mainly, microstate B coverage was significantly higher during spatial relationships and visualization, compared to induction, while microstate C coverage was significantly decreased during spatial relationships and visualization, compared to induction. Additionally, microstate D coverage was highest during spatial relationships and microstate A coverage was most strongly reduced during the same condition. Consistently, multivariate analysis with a leave-one-out cross-validation procedure accurately classified the fluid reasoning tasks based on the coverage parameter. These EEG data and their correlation with fMRI data suggest that especially the tasks most strongly relying on visuospatial processing modulated visual and default mode network activity. We propose that EEG microstates can provide valuable information about neural activity patterns with a dynamic and complex temporal structure during fluid reasoning, suggesting cognitive ability-specific interplays between multiple brain networks.

KEYWORDS:

Cognitive abilities; EEG; Fluid reasoning; Microstates; Visuospatial

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