Neuroimaging predictors of cognitive performance across a standardized neurocognitive battery

Neuropsychology. 2014 Mar;28(2):161-176. doi: 10.1037/neu0000011. Epub 2013 Dec 23.


Objective: The advent of functional MRI (fMRI) enables the identification of brain regions recruited for specific behavioral tasks. Most fMRI studies focus on group effects in single tasks, which limits applicability where assessment of individual differences and multiple brain systems is needed.

Method: We demonstrate the feasibility of concurrently measuring fMRI activation patterns and performance on a computerized neurocognitive battery (CNB) in 212 healthy individuals at 2 sites. Cross-validated sparse regression of regional brain amplitude and extent of activation were used to predict concurrent performance on 6 neurocognitive tasks: abstraction/mental flexibility, attention, emotion processing, and verbal, face, and spatial memory.

Results: Brain activation was task responsive and domain specific, as reported in previous single-task studies. Prediction of performance was robust for most tasks, particularly for abstraction/mental flexibility and visuospatial memory.

Conclusions: The feasibility of administering a comprehensive neuropsychological battery in the scanner was established, and task-specific brain activation patterns improved prediction beyond demographic information. This benchmark index of performance-associated brain activation can be applied to link brain activation with neurocognitive performance during standardized testing. This first step in standardizing a neurocognitive battery for use in fMRI may enable quantitative assessment of patients with brain disorders across multiple cognitive domains. Such data may facilitate identification of neural dysfunction associated with poor performance, allow for identification of individuals at risk for brain disorders, and help guide early intervention and rehabilitation of neurocognitive deficits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Young Adult