Resting-state BOLD signal variability is associated with individual differences in metacontrol

Chenyan Zhang, Christian Beste, Luisa Prochazkova, Kangcheng Wang, Sebastian P.H. Speer, Ale Smidts, Maarten A.S. Boksem, Bernhard Hommel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous studies demonstrate that moment-to-moment neural variability is behaviorally relevant and beneficial for tasks and behaviors requiring cognitive flexibility. However, it remains unclear whether the positive effect of neural variability also holds for cognitive persistence. Moreover, different brain variability measures have been used in previous studies, yet comparisons between them are lacking. In the current study, we examined the association between resting-state BOLD signal variability and two metacontrol policies (i.e., persistence vs. flexibility). Brain variability was estimated from resting-state fMRI (rsfMRI) data using two different approaches (i.e., Standard Deviation (SD), and Mean Square Successive Difference (MSSD)) and metacontrol biases were assessed by three metacontrol-sensitive tasks. Results showed that brain variability measured by SD and MSSD was highly positively related. Critically, higher variability measured by MSSD in the attention network, parietal and frontal network, frontal and ACC network, parietal and motor network, and higher variability measured by SD in the parietal and motor network, parietal and frontal network were associated with reduced persistence (or greater flexibility) of metacontrol (i.e., larger Stroop effect or worse RAT performance). These results show that the beneficial effect of brain signal variability on cognitive control depends on the metacontrol states involved. Our study highlights the importance of temporal variability of rsfMRI activity in understanding the neural underpinnings of cognitive control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18425
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council to B.H. (ERC‐2015‐AdG‐694722) and a 100 Double Talent Grant of the Province of Shandong, China to B.H. and C.B. C.Z. is funded by the PhD scholarship (201806990039) of the Chinese Scholarship Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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