Brain Dynamics of Post-Task Resting State are Influenced by Expertise: Insights From Baseball Players

Jordan Muraskin, S. Dodhia, G. Lieberman, J.O. Garcia, T. Verstynen, J.M. Vettel, Jason Sherwin, Paul Sajda

Post-task resting state dynamics can be viewed as a task-driven state where behavioral performance is improved through endogenous, non-explicit learning. Tasks that have intrinsic value for individuals are hypothesized to produce post-task resting state dynamics that promote learning. We measured simultaneous fMRI/EEG and DTI in Division-1 collegiate baseball players and compared to a group of controls, examining differences in both functional and structural connectivity. Participants performed a surrogate baseball pitch Go/No-Go task before a resting state scan, and we compared post-task resting state connectivity using a seed-based analysis from the supplementary motor area (SMA), an area whose activity discriminated players and controls in our previous results using this task. Although both groups were equally trained on the task, the experts showed differential activity in their post-task resting state consistent with motor learning. Specifically, we found (1) differences in bilateral SMA–L Insula functional connectivity between experts and controls that may reflect group differences in motor learning, (2) differences in BOLD-alpha oscillation correlations between groups suggests variability in modulatory attention in the post-task state, and (3) group differences between BOLD-beta oscillations that may indicate cognitive processing of motor inhibition. Structural connectivity analysis identified group differences in portions of the functionally derived network, suggesting that functional differences may also partially arise from variability in the underlying white matter pathways. Generally, we find that brain dynamics in the post-task resting state differ as a function of subject expertise and potentially result from differences in both functional and structural connectivity.

Accepted 22 July 2016
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