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Postersession 2 - Individual Differences and (Epi)genetics
Donnerstag, 03.06.2021:
16:00 - 18:00

Ort: Postersaal

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P015 - CD38 and susceptibility to the influence of live events on life satisfaction – a gene x environment interaction

Katrina Henkel, Anna Luxem, Laura Geißert, Norina M. Schmidt, Aisha J. L. Munk, Jürgen Hennig

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Deutschland

CD38 is known to influence oxytocin secretion, which in turn is connected to numerous socioemotional processes such as reactivity to both stressful and positive experiences.
On a genetic level, the CD38 rs3796863 C-Allele has been regarded as a potential risk factor for autism. Because of associated lower social sensitivity, a higher risk for other psychological disorders has been assumed as well. Recently, however, there have been findings that the A-Allele associated heightened social sensitivity could be a predictor of anxious and depressive symptoms following chronic interpersonal stress.

To further explore this possible gene x environment interaction, its direction, and extension to different types of stressors as well as positive experiences, we measured the CD38 rs3796863 genotype, 55 life events typically relevant for student samples, and their effect on life satisfaction in N=576 undergraduates.

The results show that participants, who have had predominantly positive life events, experience greater life satisfaction than those who have had predominantly negative events. We also observed a significant gene x environment interaction. A-homozygotes showed the greatest differences in life satisfaction between predominantly negative vs. positive life events. AC-carriers displayed only a small difference and there was almost no difference between life events in C-homozygotes. In post-hoc-tests only the difference in A-homozygotes was significant.

These results support the assumption that A-carriers, presumably because of their heightened sensitivity, are more susceptible to the influence of live events – both negative and positive.
These findings have to be replicated and should be observed both long-term and in experimental settings.

P016 - Consistency in sex classification analyses across independent datasets

Lisa Wiersch1,2, Kaustubh R. Patil1,2, Simon B. Eickhoff1,2, Susanne Weis1,2

1Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-7Brain and Behaviour), Research Centre Jülich, Germany; 2Institute of Systems Neuroscience, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany


There is an ongoing debate on whether features of functional brain organization as captured by resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) are sexually dimorphic or overlapping between males and females. Machine-learning (ML) approaches can address this question: The level to which the biological sex of a person can be predicted by a ML-algorithm based on spatially specific RSFC features can indicate whether the features in the respective regions are rather sexually dimorphic than overlapping.


Within five independent big datasets; CamCAN (N=622), eNKI (N=458), 1000BBRAINS (N=1042), GSP(N=870) and HCP (N=966), spatially specific RSFC among 436 Parcels covering cortical as well as subcortical regions was assessed by correlating each parcel’s activation time course with those of the other 435 parcels. Based on these features, a Support Vector Machine classifier with radial basis function kernel was used to perform classification analyses in each dataset separately.


The classifier achieved highest average classification accuracy on HCP (73.59%), followed by 1000BRAINS (72.51%) and GSP (71.22%). Slightly lower accuracies were achieved for CamCAN (68.72%) and the eNKI (64.34%). Across datasets, highly predictive parcels were consistently located in the temporal lobe, cingulate cortex, inferior frontal gyrus and insula.


While classification accuracies varied slightly across the datasets, highly classifying regions were consistent, indicating that especially the cingulate cortex, temporal lobe, insula and inferior frontal gyrus show more sex-specific FC patterns. However, the accuracies were only moderately high, indicating that RSFC patterns are not fully sexual-dimorphic but rather overlapping features.

P017 - Cortical hyperarousal in individuals with frequent nightmares – trait or state?

Clara Sayk, Klaus Junghanns, Ines Wilhelm

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Translational Psychiatry Unit, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany


Nightmares are common among the general population and in psychiatric but hard to study in the sleep lab environment. Previous studies associated signs of nocturnal arousal with nightmares such as increased heart rate, reduced slow wave sleep (SWS) and increased high-frequency EEG activity. However, it is still unclear, whether these characteristics are more of a trait of (chronic) nightmare sufferers or rather indicators of the nightmare state.


We compared participants with frequent nightmares (NM) and healthy controls who spent four nights in the sleep laboratory. In order to disentangle trait and state effects of nightmare experience, sleep architecture and spectral power during NREM and REM periods was compared i) between nightmare participants and healthy controls and ii) between nights of nightmare occurrence and nights without nightmare occurrence in the group of NM participants.


NM participants showed increased sleep latency, reduced sleep efficiency and a higher number of movement arousal during REM as well as increased beta (16.25–31 Hz) and gamma (31.25–45 Hz) power during NREM and REM periods compared to healthy controls. Nightmare occurrence was associated with increased movement arousal in NW participants.


Our findings suggest that nightmare participants show signs of increased arousal during sleep that is independent from immediate nightmare occurrence. Neurophysiological alterations associated with cortical hyperarousal might represent a trait factor underlying frequent nightmare occurrence.

P018 - Does Porn Make Impatient? The Association between Pornography Consumption and the Discounting of Delayed Monetary Rewards

Erik Lang1,2, Kilian Knauth2, Jan Peters2

1Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Clinical Psychology; 2University of Cologne, Biological Psychology

Pornography is a highly accessible, affordable and anonymous primary rewarding stimulus, with considerable potential to exert both temporary and lasting influence on human decision-making and neurobiological functioning. One such behavioral adjustment is, that humans discount future rewards stronger, both when confronted with pornography directly during decision-making, or when consuming pornography regularly over a prolonged time-period. However, data on recreational users is either unavailable or inconclusive. The present study applied a cross-sectional online-survey, on a German sample of recreational pornography users, inquiring about pornography consumption patterns and impulsivity. Both frequentist and Bayesian statistical data analysis approaches were used to test the hypothesized positive relationship between pornography consumption and impulsivity. A total of N = 337 participants provided complete datasets. Correlation indices for associations between pornography consumption and impulsivity, yielded only marginal sup- port for the hypothesized relationship, with most indices below r = .20. A multiple stepwise regression model extracted attitude towards pornography, years since consumption onset and the share of pornography consumed during partnered sex as significant predictors of intertemporal choice behavior. Further exploratory analyses employing MCMC-sampling could not detect any substantial positive relationships between the hypothesized measures. These results yield only marginal support for both our hypothesized associations and past findings regarding impulsivity in individuals with problematic use of pornography. Still, our results do not yet permit to fully refute assumptions regarding causality, with further research needed on social and situational factors mediating between recreational pornography use and everyday decision-making.

P019 - Estimating the prevalence of atypical footedness and its relation to handedness across 164 studies

Julian Packheiser1, Judith Schmitz2, Gesa Berretz1, David Carey3, Silvia Paracchini2, Marietta Papadatou-Pastou4, Sebastian Ocklenburg1

1Ruhr-Universtät Bochum, Deutschland; 2University of St. Andrews, UK; 3Bangor University, UK; 4National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Human lateral preferences have interested researchers for decades due to their pronounced asymmetries at the population level. To this day, there is no large-scale estimation on the prevalence of footedness. Furthermore, the relationship between footedness and handedness still remains elusive. Here, we conducted a large-scale meta-analysis totaling 145,135 individuals across 164 studies including new data from the ALSPAC cohort. The study aimed to determine a reliable and reproducible point estimate of footedness, to conclusively determine the association between footedness and handedness, and to investigate moderating factors influencing footedness. We showed that the prevalence of atypical footedness ranges between 12.10% using the most conservative criterion of left-footedness to 23.7% including all left- and mixed-footers as a single non-right category. As many as 60.1% of left-handers were left-footed whereas only 3.2% of right-handers were left-footed. Males were 4.1% more often non-right-footed compared to females. Individuals with psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders exhibited a higher prevalence of non-right-footedness. Furthermore, the presence of mixed-footedness was higher in children compared to adults and left-footedness was increased in athletes compared to the general population. Finally, we showed that footedness is only marginally influenced by cultural and social factors, which play a crucial role in the determination of handedness. Overall, this open-access publication provides new and useful reference data for laterality research that is openly available at OSF including code for analyses. Furthermore, the data suggest that footedness is a valuable phenotype for the study of lateral motor biases, its underlying genetics and neurodevelopment.

P020 - Influences on the association between heart rate variability and measures of executive control

Miriam Hufenbach, Julia Wendt

Universität Potsdam, Department Psychologie, Deutschland

Introduction: Different psychophysiological frameworks (e.g. Polyvagal Theory Neurovisceral Integration Model, Attentional Network Theory) predict that tonic heart rate variability (HRV) and the strength of executive functions are associated, however, empirical evidence so far has been mixed. Thus, we investigated the association between HRV and indices from both an affective and a non-affective go/no go paradigm together with a set of possible confounding variables (registered prior to analyses at

Methods: Commission errors were used as a measure of behavioural inhibition, reaction time as a measure of orientation speed and subsequent behavioural execution. Gender, trait anxiety and impulsiveness were tested as confounding variables. The statistical analysis consisted of two sets of linear mixed models of increasing complexity.

Results: For commission error, a significant interaction between HRV and sex was found. With higher HRV, male participants made more commission errors, while female participants made less. We found significantly higher reaction times in the affective GNG. This difference in reaction time decreases with higher HRV. Furthermore, the association of HRV and reaction time is moderated by trait anxiety – with higher trait anxiety, low HRV is associated with longer reaction times, but high HRV with shorter reaction times.

Discussion: Taken together, our results support the conclusion that the association between HRV and measures of executive control is not universal, but depends on several factors. Specifically, gender seems to influence the association between HRV and behavioral inhibition and trait anxiety the association between HRV and orientation speed.

P021 - Inter- and intraindividual differences in alpha synchronization during creative ideation

Danièle A. Gubler1, Lisa M. Makowski1, Christian Rominger2, Stefan J. Troche1

1University of Bern, Schweiz; 2University of Graz, Austria

Existing evidence on the relationship between EEG alpha power and creative ideation demonstrates that the process of creative ideation (measured with divergent thinking tasks) is associated with increases in alpha power (i.e. task-related alpha synchronization). Recent studies further indicate that this alpha synchronization changes depending on the time course of the creative process. However, the role of possible specificity of lower and upper alpha band power in the creative process seems to be unclear. While most studies concentrated on alpha power in the upper alpha band (10-12 Hz), others also focused on the lower alpha band (8 - 10 Hz) or on the broad alpha frequency range (8-12 Hz). The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the time course of EEG alpha power during the process of creative ideation separately for the lower and upper alpha bands. Furthermore, we were interested in whether this process of creative ideation differs with regard to inter-individual (originality and intelligence scores) and intra-individual (creative responses vs. non-creative responses) differences. For the study, sixty-one participants completed an Alternate Uses Task (AUT) while an EEG was recorded and changes in task-related performance (relative to rest) were determined in both alpha frequency sub-bands for three time intervals of the idea generation period. Data are currently being analyzed. This study allows a deeper understanding of the role of the different alpha frequency bands in the creative ideation process as a function of inter- and intraindividual differences.

P022 - Konsequenzen aversiver Kindheitserfahrungen – welche Effekte zeigen sich im Proteom von CD14+ Monozyten?

Johannes Zang1, Caroline May2, Katrin Marcus2, Robert Kumsta1

1Department of Genetic Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum; 2Medizinisches Proteome-Center, Medical Proteome Analysis Center for Proteindiagnostics (PRODI), Ruhr-University Bochum; Bochum, Germany.

Das Erleben von Vernachlässigung und Missbrauch in der Kindheit (adverse childhood experiences: ACE) stellt einen transdiagnostischen Risikofaktor für psychische und somatische Gesundheitsproblematiken dar. Mehrere biologische Mediatoren dieser Assoziationen werden diskutiert. Auf molekularer Ebenen erfahren dabei derzeit besonders epigenetische Modifikationen wie etwa die Methylierung von DNA gesteigerte Aufmerksamkeit. Darüber hinaus lässt sich eine Zunahme von Studien verzeichnen, die die Konsequenzen wiedriger Erfahrungen auf Ebene der Genexpression in den Blick nehmen. Über die Auswirkungen von ACE auf die Proteom-Komposition ist dagegen wenig bekannt. Obwohl Proteine nahezu alle zellulären Funktionen realisieren wurde diese Ebene molekularer Organisation bei der Untersuchung biologischer ACE-Konsequenzen bisher nicht berücksichtigt. Der vorliegende Beitrag stellt Ergebnisse einer Proteom-Studie vor. Methodisch wurden zunächst CD14+ Monozyten aus dem Blut von 30 gesunden Erwachsenen mit ACE und einer passenden Kontrollgruppe vor und nach der Induktion von psychosozialem Stress (TSST) isoliert. Die Analyse des Proteoms erfolgte anschließend mittels Flüssigchromatographie-Tandem-Massenspektrometrie (LC-MS/MS). ACE assoziierte Proteine erwiesen sich als relevant für mitochondriale, proteinmetabolische und immunsystemische Prozesse. Diese Befunde waren sowohl vor als auch nach der Induktion von Stress zu beobachten und konnten mittels Protein-Interaktions- und Koexpressionsanalysen untermauert werden. Unsere Ergebnisse unterstützen die Idee mitochondrialer Dysfunktion als möglichen Mediator früher aversiver Erfahrungen.

P023 - Narcissism and Error Processing: Variations of Admiration and Rivalry with the Error-Related Negativity and the Error Positivity

Markus Mück, Jutta Stahl

Universität zu Köln, Deutschland

The literature on narcissism suggests two contradictory ways how highly narcissistic individuals deal with failures: They might consciously avoid failures or vigilantly turn towards them as failures provide essential cues for the pursuit and protection of grandiosity. We tried to dissolve these (seemingly) contradictory positions by studying event-related potential components of error processing and their variations with narcissism. With a speeded Go/noGo task, we examined how the error-related negativity (Ne/ERN) and the error positivity (Pe) vary with Admiration and Rivalry, two narcissism dimensions (Back et al., 2013), under ego-threatening conditions. Using multilevel models, we showed that participants with high Rivalry displayed higher Ne/ERN amplitudes. We did not find variations of either narcissism dimension with the Pe. Thus, the results only supported the second position, a heightened vigilance to errors at early, rather automatic processing stages (reflected in a higher Ne/ERN). However, future studies might find reduced conscious error perception at later processing stages (reflected in Pe variations) by distinguishing between an early and a late Pe (Endrass et al., 2007) and by considering the error evidence accumulation account (Steinhauser & Yeung, 2012). After all, if one respects the temporal dynamics of error processing and different narcissism dimensions, highly narcissistic individuals might show heightened vigilance to and conscious avoidance of errors.

P024 - OXTR x CD38 interaction in differences in responsiveness to a Positive Psychological Intervention: replication and extension

Anna Luxem, Katrina Henkel, Laura Geißert, Norina M. Schmidt, Aisha J. L. Munk, Juergen Hennig

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Deutschland

Oxytocin (OXT) has been associated with social interaction and positive emotionality. However, the role of OXT in responsiveness to interventions aimed at increasing positive emotions is largely unexplored. Yet, an oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene SNP (rs53576) was identified to be relevant in predicting responsiveness to a Positive Psychological Intervention (PPI) (Luxem et al., 2019).

To replicate and extend this finding, we additionally tested whether the emotional benefit from a four-week group PPI (with one session per week) can be explained by a SNP (rs3796863) of the cluster of differentiation 38 (CD38) gene that is functionally relevant for the secretion of OXT.

First, with an enlarged Caucasian collective of N = 116, we found evidence for the PPI effectiveness as an increase in situational positive affect. Second, the effect of OXTR G allele carriers (n = 88) being more responsive to the PPI than A homozygotes was stable. Third, CD38 A allele carriers (n = 58) descriptively showed an overall higher and increasing emotional profit from the PPI over time compared to C homozygotes. Fourth, the OXTR x CD38 interaction was not significantly associated with responsiveness; though, OXTR G allele carriers with at least one CD38 A allele descriptively showed the greatest benefit.

Factors influencing the prediction of the interindividual responsiveness to PPI are discussed. To test these in the future, a further upsizing of the sample is necessary to increase the statistical power.

P025 - Oxytocin, Dopamine, and Attachment – Does the relationship person matter?

Laura Geißert, Katrina Henkel, Anna Luxem, Norina M. Schmidt, Aisha J. L. Munk, Jürgen Hennig

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Deutschland

Striatal dopamine (DA), especially in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), plays an important role in attachment. Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) is involved in degrading DA. Met-carriers of a polymorphism (rs4680) coding COMT activity show a reduced enzyme activity. Oxytocin (OT), central in processing social cues, has receptors in different brain areas, amongst others in the striatum. A-carriers of the oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR) rs53576 show an increased need for social approval. OT inhibits exploratory behavior when modulating DA on the level of substantia nigra, whereas oxytocinergic effects on DA in the VTA stimulate social behavior. The interaction of DA and OT regarding adult attachment has been investigated. This result is expected to be replicated. Furthermore, it will be examined whether the DA-OT-interaction in attachment differs between relationship persons (mother/partner).

A total number of N=545 students (441 females, 3 non-binary) was genotyped for rs4680 and rs53576. Adult attachment was measured with the German version of the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ). The attachment pattern according to different relationship persons was investigated in a subsample of N=214 (175 females, 2 non-binary) participants with the BBE (Beziehungsspezifische Bindungsskalen).

First, the results of our last study were replicated. The combination of Met- and A-homozygotes showed a significant higher score on the ASQ scale “Need for Approval”. The same was shown for the scale “Relationships as Secondary”. There were no significant results for the BBE, indicating that the interaction between DA and OX basically relates to attachment but not to different patterns according to different relationship persons.

P026 - Performance monitoring in Impulsivity and Compulsivity

Rebecca Overmeyer, Julian Farwick, Tanja Endrass

Technische Universität Dresden, Deutschland

Introduction. Adaptive behavior depends on monitoring response outcomes for the need to adapt behavior and the recruitment of cognitive control, a process called performance monitoring (PM). Neural correlates of PM, like the error-related negativity (ERN), are altered in various mental disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and substance use disorder (SUD). These mental disorders are also marked by impulsivity and compulsivity. The current study investigated whether PM-related brain activity is altered in different configurations of impulsivity and compulsivity.

Methods. So far, we recruited a sample of 101 individuals from the general population, split into four groups: low impulsive and low compulsive (n=35), high impulsive and low compulsive (n=17), low impulsive and high compulsive (n=24) and high impulsive and high compulsive (n=25). Impulsivity was assessed using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and compulsivity with the Obsessive Compulsive Inventory – Revised. We used the error-related negativity (ERN) in a classical Flanker task to assess PM.

Results. Our preliminary analysis revealed significantly higher ERN amplitudes in the low impulsive/high compulsive group compared to the low impulsive/low compulsive group. The other groups did not differ from one another; however, as the sample size is small, confidence intervals are still large.

Discussion. This replicates the effect of increased ERN amplitude in compulsive individuals, in a classical Flanker task. There is no evidence, so far, of a modulation of ERN amplitude by impulsivity.

P027 - Polygenic and Genome-Wide Associations with Small-World Propensity in Functional Brain Networks: A Genetic Imaging Study in N = 16,687 Individuals from the UK Biobank Cohort.

Helena Braun, Philippe Jawinski, Sebastian Markett

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Psychiatric disorders and psychological traits have a strong genetic foundation but the biological pathways remain largely elusive. A promising way to understand how genetic variation increases susceptibility for respective traits is the inclusion of intermediate phenotypes with established relevance for given traits. Recent evidence suggests that the overall efficiency of brain-wide functional connectivity networks is reduced in several psychiatric disorders. The present study operationalizes network efficiency through the small-world propensity (SWP) metric and investigates its putative role as an intermediate endophenotype in resting-state fMRI data from the UK Biobank (N = 16,687). We found a substantial genetic foundation of SWP, as well as genetic correlations and polygenic associations that are in line with the previously suggested dimensionality of the SWP measure across a wide range of behavioral and clinical traits. While our results are promising, it needs to be noted that the observed effect sizes are modest at best and preclude clinically relevant predictions at this stage. Considering the substantial SNP-based heritability of SWP, however, we believe that our results are a promising starting point towards establishing functional network efficiency as an endophenotype with substantial predictive accuracy for psychiatric disorders and psychological traits. We will discuss how the clinical neurosciences can leverage the currently emerging methodological advances and take advantage of growing sample sizes to unravel the neural pathways from genes to behavior.

P028 - Predicting Intelligence from Time-Resolved Brain Connectivity

Maren Wehrheim1,2, Joshua Faskowitz3, Olaf Sporns3, Christian J. Fiebach1,4, Matthias Kaschube1,2, Kirsten Hilger1,5

1Department of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; 2Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; 3Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA; 4Brain Imaging Center, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; 5Department of Psychology I, Julius Maximilian University, Würzburg, Germany


Intelligence captures the general cognitive ability level of a person. Whereas its (neuro-)biological basis is not yet completely understood, intelligence can be predicted from time-averaged (‘static’) functional resting-state connectivity. When temporally decomposing this ‘static’ connectivity into time-varying connectivity patterns, individual participants can be identified based on the 5% of the resting-state (rs-)fMRI timeseries that show highest-amplitude whole-brain cofluctuations. Here, we test whether such connectivity states can predict individual differences in intelligence.


We identified three types of rs-fMRI connectivity states (N=281), each defined as a set of only 5% of the rs-fMRI timeseries, corresponding to i) highest-amplitude cofluctuations, ii) lowest-amplitude cofluctuations, and iii) local extrema within the cofluctuation timeseries. We then examined whether the Wechsler full-scale IQ can be predicted from these states, using a newly developed two-stage prediction framework involving the construction of interpretable features and cross-validated ElasticNet regression.


Neither highest-amplitude nor lowest-amplitude cofluctuations significantly predicted intelligence (observed vs. predicted: both r<.13, p>.05). In contrast, local extrema connectivity states achieved above-chance prediction (r=.3, p<.05), thereby involving multiple functional brain networks. All results were replicated in an independent sample (N=831).


Our results indicate that individual differences in intelligence depend on intermediate brain-wide connectivity states instead of moments of strongest cofluctuation. Together with the wide spatial distribution of the predictive features, this suggests that intelligence emerges as a whole-brain property from moments of dynamic changes in network interactions. Finally, the here proposed prediction method may allow for unbiased prediction analyses in various fields of neuroscience.

P029 - Revisiting potential associations between brain morphology, fear acquisition and extinction through new data and a literature review

Mana Ehlers1, Janne Nold1, Manuel Kuhn1,2, Maren Klingelhöfer-Jens1, Tina Lonsdorf1

1University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany; 2Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, USA

Inter-individual differences in defensive responding are widely established but their morphological correlates in humans have not been investigated in depth. Previous studies reported associations with cortical thickness of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, insula and medial orbitofrontal cortex as well as amygdala volume in fear conditioning studies. However, these associations are partly inconsistent and often derived from small samples. The current study aimed to (conceptually) replicate previously reported associations between physiological and subjective measures of fear acquisition and extinction and brain morphology. Structural magnetic resonance imaging was performed on 107 healthy adults who completed a differential fear conditioning paradigm with 24h delayed extinction while skin conductance response (SCR) and fear ratings were recorded. Cortical thickness and subcortical volume were obtained using the software Freesurfer. Results obtained by traditional null hypothesis significance testing and Bayesians statistics do not support structural brain-behavior relationships: Neither differential SCR nor fear ratings during fear acquisition or extinction training could be predicted by cortical thickness or subcortical volume in regions previously reported.

In summary, the current pre-registered and peer-reviewed study does not corroborate associations between brain morphology and inter-individual differences in defensive responding. While differences in experimental design and analyses approaches are discussed, we would also like to emphasize the need for larger sample sizes to ensure sufficient power to detect smaller correlations. Looking into the future, we envision collaborative data pooling in order to meet the sample size requirements for individual difference research that are difficult to fulfill by individual research groups.

P030 - When Less Adaption is More: Multi-Task Brain Network Reconfiguration and its Inverse Relationship with General Intelligence

Jonas A. Thiele1, Joshua Faskowitz2, Olaf Sporns2, Kirsten Hilger1

1Department of Psychology I - Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Würzburg University, Würzburg, Germany; 2Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA


Intelligence predicts important life outcomes like educational success, health, and longevity. Functional brain network reconfiguration operationalized as adaptation of resting-state functional connectivity (FC) to cognitive demands was recently proposed as promising marker of intelligence. This study links general intelligence to brain network reconfiguration between resting- and seven specific task states.


We used data from 812 subjects of the Human Connectome Project. General intelligence was operationalized as latent g-factor derived from 12 cognitive tasks using bifactor analysis. Subject-specific FC matrices were constructed from fMRI data from resting state and seven tasks. Functional brain connections were filtered based on their correlation with intelligence and reconfiguration was operationalized as cosine distance between the filtered FCs of two states.


Higher scores of general intelligence were associated with less brain network reconfiguration. This association was observed for all rest-task (rho = -.23, p < .001) and task-task (rho = -.23, p < .001) comparisons and for all functional brain networks except the motor systems. Results were replicated in two independent samples (N = 138, N = 184) indicating generalization to different intelligence measures and various cognitive demands.


The robust relationship between higher intelligence and less brain network reconfiguration suggests that higher intelligent people may have an intrinsic network architecture that is closer to the network architecture as required for performing various cognitive tasks. Further, our results propose intelligence as an emergent property of a widely distributed multi-task brain network potentially reflecting the neural equivalent of the positive manifold of general intelligence.

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