Cognitive performance in healthy older adults relates to spontaneous switching between states of functional connectivity during rest

Joana Cabral, Diego Vidaurre, Paulo Marques, Ricardo Magalhães, Pedro Silva Moreira, José Miguel Soares, Gustavo Deco, Nuno Sousa, Morten L. Kringelbach

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Growing evidence has shown that brain activity at rest slowly wanders through a repertoire of different states, where whole-brain functional connectivity (FC) temporarily settles into distinct FC patterns. Nevertheless, the functional role of resting-state activity remains unclear. Here, we investigate how the switching behavior of resting-state FC relates with cognitive performance in healthy older adults. We analyse resting-state fMRI data from 98 healthy adults previously categorized as being among the best or among the worst performers in a cohort study of >1000 subjects aged 50+ who underwent neuropsychological assessment. We use a novel approach focusing on the dominant FC pattern captured by the leading eigenvector of dynamic FC matrices. Recurrent FC patterns - or states - are detected and characterized in terms of lifetime, probability of occurrence and switching profiles. We find that poorer cognitive performance is associated with weaker FC temporal similarity together with altered switching between FC states. These results provide new evidence linking the switching dynamics of FC during rest with cognitive performance in later life, reinforcing the functional role of resting-state activity for effective cognitive processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5135
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • cognitive ageing
  • data mining
  • dynamical systems

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