Changed hub and functional connectivity patterns of the posterior fusiform gyrus in chess experts

  • Limei Song
  • Qinmu Peng
  • Shuwei LiuEmail author
  • Jiaojian WangEmail author


The hubs of the brain network play a key role in integrating and transferring information between different functional modules. However, the effects of long-term practice on functional network hubs in chess experts are largely undefined. Here, we investigated whether alterations of hubs can be detected in chess experts using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and graph theory methods. We first mapped the whole-brain voxel-wise functional connectivity and calculated the functional connectivity strength (FCS) map in each of the 28 chess players and 27 gender- and age-matched healthy novice players. Whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity analyses for the changed hub areas were conducted to further elucidate the corresponding changes of functional connectivity patterns in chess players. The hub analysis revealed increased FCS in the right posterior fusiform gyrus of the chess players, which was supported by analyses of this area’s regional homogeneity (ReHo), amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (ALFF), and fractional amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (fALFF). The following functional connectivity analyses revealed increased functional connectivities between the right posterior fusiform gyrus and the visuospatial attention and motor networks in chess players. These findings demonstrate that cognitive expertise has a positive influence on the functions of the brain regions associated with the chess expertise and that increased functional connections might in turn facilitate within and between networks communication for expert behavior to get superior performance.


Chess experts Hubs Functional connectivity strength Resting-state functional connectivity Neuroplasticity 



This study is sponsored by Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No:31500867, 31571237).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Sectional and Imaging AnatomyShandong University Cheeloo College of MedicineJinanChina
  2. 2.School of Electronic Information and CommunicationsHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  3. 3.The Clinical Hospital of Chengdu Brain Science Institute, MOE Key Lab for NeuroinformationUniversity of Electronic Science and Technology of ChinaChengduChina

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