The ascending arousal system promotes optimal performance through mesoscale network integration in a visuospatial attentional task

Gabriel Wainstein, Daniel Rojas-Líbano, Vicente Medel, Dag Alnæs, Knut K. Kolskår, Tor Endestad, Bruno Laeng, Tomas Ossandon, Nicolás Crossley, Elie Matar, James M. Shine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has shown that the autonomic nervous system provides essential constraints over ongoing cognitive function. However, there is currently a relative lack of direct empirical evidence for how this interaction manifests in the brain at the macroscale level. Here, we examine the role of ascending arousal and attentional load on large-scale network dynamics by combining pupillometry, functional MRI, and graph theoretical analysis to analyze data from a visual motion-tracking task with a parametric load manipulation. We found that attentional load effects were observable in measures of pupil diameter and in a set of brain regions that parametrically modulated their BOLD activity and mesoscale network-level integration. In addition, the regional patterns of network reconfiguration were correlated with the spatial distribution of the α2a adrenergic receptor. Our results further solidify the relationship between ascending noradrenergic activity, large-scale network integration, and cognitive task performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-910
Number of pages21
JournalNetwork Neuroscience
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 30 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention
  • FMRI
  • Locus coeruleus
  • Mental effort
  • Network integration
  • Neuromodulation
  • Noradrenergic system
  • Pupil diameter

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