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

Abstract

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.

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Funding

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

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Correspondence to Shuwei Liu or Jiaojian Wang.

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Song, L., Peng, Q., Liu, S. et al. Changed hub and functional connectivity patterns of the posterior fusiform gyrus in chess experts. Brain Imaging and Behavior 14, 797–805 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-018-0020-0

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Keywords

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