Although resting-state fMRI studies support that human brain is topographically organized regarding localized and distributed processes, it is still unclear about the task-modulated cortical hierarchy in terms of distributed functional connectivity and localized timescales. To address, current study investigated the effect of cognitive load on cortical connectivity gradients and local timescales in the healthy brain using resting state fMRI as well as 1- and 2-back working memory task fMRI. The results demonstrated that (1) increased cognitive load was associated with lower principal gradient in transmodal cortices, higher principal gradient in primary cortices, decreased decay rate and reduced timescale variability; (2) global properties including gradient variability, timescale decay rate, timescale variability and network topology were all modulated by cognitive load, with timescale variability related to behavioral performance; and (3) at 2-back state, the timescale variability was indirectly and negatively linked with global network integration, which was mediated by gradient variability. In conclusion, current study provides novel evidence for load-modulated cortical connectivity gradients and local timescales during cognitive states, which could contribute to better understanding about cognitive load theory and brain disorders with cognitive dysfunction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive load
- Functional gradient
- Working memory