The D'Esposito Lab is a cognitive neuroscience research laboratory within the
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
and the Department of Psychology.

Recent Publications

Cookson, SL, D'Esposito M.  2022.  Evaluating the reliability, validity, and utility of overlapping networks: Implications for network theories of cognition., 2022 Nov 01. Human brain mapping. Abstract

Brain network definitions typically assume nonoverlap or minimal overlap, ignoring regions' connections to multiple networks. However, new methods are emerging that emphasize network overlap. Here, we investigated the reliability and validity of one assignment method, the mixed membership algorithm, and explored its potential utility for identifying gaps in existing network models of cognition. We first assessed between-sample reliability of overlapping assignments with a split-half design; a bootstrapped Dice similarity analysis demonstrated good agreement between the networks from the two subgroups. Next, we assessed whether overlapping networks captured expected nonoverlapping topographies; overlapping networks captured portions of one to three nonoverlapping topographies, which aligned with canonical network definitions. Following this, a relative entropy analysis showed that a majority of regions participated in more than one network, as is seen biologically, and many regions did not show preferential connection to any one network. Finally, we explored overlapping network membership in regions of the dual-networks model of cognitive control, showing that almost every region was a member of multiple networks. Thus, the mixed membership algorithm produces consistent and biologically plausible networks, which presumably will allow for the development of more complete network models of cognition.

Cookson, SL, D'Esposito M.  2022.  Evaluating the reliability, validity, and utility of overlapping networks: Implications for network theories of cognition., 2022 Nov 01. Human brain mapping. Abstract

Brain network definitions typically assume nonoverlap or minimal overlap, ignoring regions' connections to multiple networks. However, new methods are emerging that emphasize network overlap. Here, we investigated the reliability and validity of one assignment method, the mixed membership algorithm, and explored its potential utility for identifying gaps in existing network models of cognition. We first assessed between-sample reliability of overlapping assignments with a split-half design; a bootstrapped Dice similarity analysis demonstrated good agreement between the networks from the two subgroups. Next, we assessed whether overlapping networks captured expected nonoverlapping topographies; overlapping networks captured portions of one to three nonoverlapping topographies, which aligned with canonical network definitions. Following this, a relative entropy analysis showed that a majority of regions participated in more than one network, as is seen biologically, and many regions did not show preferential connection to any one network. Finally, we explored overlapping network membership in regions of the dual-networks model of cognitive control, showing that almost every region was a member of multiple networks. Thus, the mixed membership algorithm produces consistent and biologically plausible networks, which presumably will allow for the development of more complete network models of cognition.

Iyer, KK, Hwang K, Hearne LJ, Muller E, D'Esposito M, Shine JM, Cocchi L.  2022.  Focal neural perturbations reshape low-dimensional trajectories of brain activity supporting cognitive performance., 2022 01 10. Nature communications. 13(1):4. Abstract

The emergence of distributed patterns of neural activity supporting brain functions and behavior can be understood by study of the brain's low-dimensional topology. Functional neuroimaging demonstrates that brain activity linked to adaptive behavior is constrained to low-dimensional manifolds. In human participants, we tested whether these low-dimensional constraints preserve working memory performance following local neuronal perturbations. We combined multi-session functional magnetic resonance imaging, non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and methods translated from the fields of complex systems and computational biology to assess the functional link between changes in local neural activity and the reshaping of task-related low dimensional trajectories of brain activity. We show that specific reconfigurations of low-dimensional trajectories of brain activity sustain effective working memory performance following TMS manipulation of local activity on, but not off, the space traversed by these trajectories. We highlight an association between the multi-scale changes in brain activity underpinning cognitive function.

Ciampa, CJ, Parent JH, Harrison TM, Fain RM, Betts MJ, Maass A, Winer JR, Baker SL, Janabi M, Furman DJ, D'Esposito M, Jagust WJ, Berry AS.  2022.  Associations among locus coeruleus catecholamines, tau pathology, and memory in aging., 2022 Jan 15. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Abstract

The locus coeruleus (LC) is the brain's major source of the neuromodulator norepinephrine, and is also profoundly vulnerable to the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related tau pathology. Norepinephrine plays a role in neuroprotective functions that may reduce AD progression, and also underlies optimal memory performance. Successful maintenance of LC neurochemical function represents a candidate mechanism of protection against the propagation of AD-related pathology and may facilitate the preservation of memory performance despite pathology. Using [F]Fluoro-m-tyrosine ([F]FMT) PET imaging to measure catecholamine synthesis capacity in LC regions of interest, we examined relationships among LC neurochemical function, AD-related pathology, and memory performance in cognitively normal older adults (n = 49). Participants underwent [C]Pittsburgh compound B and [F]Flortaucipir PET to quantify β-amyloid (n = 49) and tau burden (n = 42) respectively. In individuals with substantial β-amyloid, higher LC [F]FMT net tracer influx (Ki) was associated with lower temporal tau. Longitudinal tau-PET analyses in a subset of our sample (n = 30) support these findings to reveal reduced temporal tau accumulation in the context of higher LC [F]FMT Ki. Higher LC catecholamine synthesis capacity was positively correlated with self-reported cognitive engagement and physical activity across the lifespan, established predictors of successful aging measured with the Lifetime Experiences Questionnaire. LC catecholamine synthesis capacity moderated tau's negative effect on memory, such that higher LC catecholamine synthesis capacity was associated with better-than-expected memory performance given an individual's tau burden. These PET findings provide insight into the neurochemical mechanisms of AD vulnerability and cognitive resilience in the living human brain.

Toker, D, Pappas I, Lendner JD, Frohlich J, Mateos DM, Muthukumaraswamy S, Carhart-Harris R, Paff M, Vespa PM, Monti MM, Sommer FT, Knight RT, D'Esposito M.  2022.  Consciousness is supported by near-critical slow cortical electrodynamics., 2022 Feb 15. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 119(7) Abstract

Mounting evidence suggests that during conscious states, the electrodynamics of the cortex are poised near a critical point or phase transition and that this near-critical behavior supports the vast flow of information through cortical networks during conscious states. Here, we empirically identify a mathematically specific critical point near which waking cortical oscillatory dynamics operate, which is known as the edge-of-chaos critical point, or the boundary between stability and chaos. We do so by applying the recently developed modified 0-1 chaos test to electrocorticography (ECoG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings from the cortices of humans and macaques across normal waking, generalized seizure, anesthesia, and psychedelic states. Our evidence suggests that cortical information processing is disrupted during unconscious states because of a transition of low-frequency cortical electric oscillations away from this critical point; conversely, we show that psychedelics may increase the information richness of cortical activity by tuning low-frequency cortical oscillations closer to this critical point. Finally, we analyze clinical electroencephalography (EEG) recordings from patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC) and show that assessing the proximity of slow cortical oscillatory electrodynamics to the edge-of-chaos critical point may be useful as an index of consciousness in the clinical setting.