(HealthDay News) – Functional connectivity within and between the visual cortex is correlated with the ability to perform a perceptual task, according to a study published online Feb. 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Antonello Baldassarre, Ph.D., from the Foundation G. d’Annunzi in Chieti, Italy, and colleagues used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess functional connectivity in 14 healthy volunteers. The volunteers then performed a novel visual discrimination task to report the presence or absence of a target shape somewhere on a video screen despite distractions.

The researchers found that performance on the task was associated with certain patterns of functional connectivity within regions of the visual cortex and between the visual cortex and higher-order cortical regions. Players who performed well initially improved at a slower rate, while players who performed poorly initially improved at a faster rate.

“Individual variability of functional connectivity within visual cortex, and between visual and higher-order regions, is related to the predisposition to perform a novel visual discrimination task. These findings suggest a potential role of intrinsic brain activity as a neural predictor of perceptual skill acquisition. This result has general implications for the functional significance of spontaneous activity, and the neural bases of individual behavioral variability,” Baldassarre and colleagues conclude.

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