Functional connectivity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex contributes to different components of executive functions
Objective The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) orchestrates other brain regions and plays a vital role for “the most uniquely human” executive functions (EFs), which are divided into distinct components. Components of EFs have been localized to different brain regions and at the same time the DLPFC was found to be involved in a majority of EF components. The possible mechanism of the DLPFC's contribution to EF components might be found in DLPFC functional connectivity (FC): this FC of the DLPFC with other brain regions contributes to different EF components. Method To explore the DLPFC FC contribution to different EFs, we used an integrative approach involving analysis of fMRI and neuropsychological assessment of EFs. Fifty healthy adults (27 females and 23 males, mean age 34.5 ± 16.6 years) underwent neuropsychological assessment of EFs as well as task-based and resting-state fMRI. Task-based fMRI was applied as a functional localizer for individually defined DLPFC ROIs that were further used for the FC seed-based correlation analysis of the resting-state data. Then we looked for associations between individual scores of different EF components and the whole-brain resting-state FC of the DLPFC. Results Resting-state correlates of DLPFC FC were revealed for three out of the seven EF components derived from an extensive neuropsychological assessment: inhibition, switching, and the verbal EF component. Conclusions Our study is the first to reveal the contribution of the DLPFC FC to several distinct EF components. The obtained results give insight into the brain mechanisms of EFs.