Resting-state glutamate level in the anterior cingulate predicts blood-oxygen level-dependent response to cognitive control

Research Area: Research Year: 2012
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: dichotic listening, default-mode network, gamma-aminobutyric acid
Authors: Falkenberg, Liv Eggset; Westerhausen, Rene; Specht, Karsten; Hugdahl, Kenneth
The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is a core structure for the governing of cognitive control, and recent studies have shown that interindividual differences in dACC anatomy are associated with corresponding differences in the ability for cognitive control. However, individuals differ not only in anatomical features of dACC, but also exhibit substantial variability regarding the biochemical characteristics of the dACC. In this study, we combined magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), finding that interindividual differences of glutamate levels in the dACC during resting-state predict the strength of the blood-oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response to a task requiring cognitive control. This relationship was observed in the retrosplenial cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, the inferior parietal lobe, and the basal ganglia. More specifically, individuals with low resting-state glutamate levels in the dACC showed an increased BOLD response when the task demands were high, whereas high-glutamate individuals showed the opposite pattern of an increased BOLD response when the task demands were low. Thus, we show here that individual variability of glutamate levels is directly related to how the brain implements cognitive control.
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