Canceled connections: Lesion-derived network mapping helps explain differences in performance on a complex decision-making task

Cortex. 2016 May;78:31-43. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.02.002. Epub 2016 Feb 21.


Studies of patients with brain damage have highlighted a broad neural network of limbic and prefrontal areas as important for adaptive decision-making. However, some patients with damage outside these regions have impaired decision-making behavior, and the behavioral impairments observed in these cases are often attributed to the general variability in behavior following brain damage, rather than a deficit in a specific brain-behavior relationship. A novel approach, lesion-derived network mapping, uses healthy subject resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) data to infer the areas that would be connected with each patient's lesion area in healthy adults. Here, we used this approach to investigate whether there was a systematic pattern of connectivity associated with decision-making performance in patients with focal damage in areas not classically associated with decision-making. These patients were categorized a priori into "impaired" or "unimpaired" groups based on their performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Lesion-derived network maps based on the impaired patients showed overlap in somatosensory, motor and insula cortices, to a greater extent than patients who showed unimpaired IGT performance. Akin to the classic concept of "diaschisis" (von Monakow, 1914), this focus on the remote effects that focal damage can have on large-scale distributed brain networks has the potential to inform not only differences in decision-making behavior, but also other cognitive functions or neurological syndromes where a distinct phenotype has eluded neuroanatomical classification and brain-behavior relationships appear highly heterogeneous.

Keywords: Decision-making; Functional connectivity; Lesion-derived network mapping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Task Performance and Analysis*