EEG source-space synchrostate transitions and Markov modeling in the math-gifted brain during a long-chain reasoning task.Hum Brain Mapp. 2020 09; 41(13):3620-3636.HB
To reveal transition dynamics of global neuronal networks of math-gifted adolescents in handling long-chain reasoning, this study explores momentary phase-synchronized patterns, that is, electroencephalogram (EEG) synchrostates, of intracerebral sources sustained in successive 50 ms time windows during a reasoning task and non-task idle process. Through agglomerative hierarchical clustering for functional connectivity graphs and nested iterative cosine similarity tests, this study identifies seven general and one reasoning-specific prototypical functional connectivity patterns from all synchrostates. Markov modeling is performed for the time-sequential synchrostates of each trial to characterize the interstate transitions. The analysis reveals that default mode network, central executive network (CEN), dorsal attention network, cingulo-opercular network, left/right ventral frontoparietal network, and ventral visual network aperiodically recur over non-task or reasoning process, exhibiting high predictability in interactively reachable transitions. Compared to non-gifted subjects, math-gifted adolescents show higher fractional occupancy and mean duration in CEN and reasoning-triggered transient right frontotemporal network (rFTN) in the time course of the reasoning process. Statistical modeling of Markov chains reveals that there are more self-loops in CEN and rFTN of the math-gifted brain, suggesting robust state durability in temporally maintaining the topological structures. Besides, math-gifted subjects show higher probabilities in switching from the other types of synchrostates to CEN and rFTN, which represents more adaptive reconfiguration of connectivity pattern in the large-scale cortical network for focused task-related information processing, which underlies superior executive functions in controlling goal-directed persistence and high predictability of implementing imagination and creative thinking during long-chain reasoning.