Dynamical Complexity Fingerprints of Occupation-Dependent Brain Functional Networks in Professional Seafarers

Front Neurosci. 2022 Mar 18;16:830808. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2022.830808. eCollection 2022.


The complexity derived from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data has been applied for exploring cognitive states and occupational neuroplasticity. However, there is little information about the influence of occupational factors on dynamic complexity and topological properties of the connectivity networks. In this paper, we proposed a novel dynamical brain complexity analysis (DBCA) framework to explore the changes in dynamical complexity of brain activity at the voxel level and complexity topology for professional seafarers caused by long-term working experience. The proposed DBCA is made up of dynamical brain entropy mapping analysis and complex network analysis based on brain entropy sequences, which generate the dynamical complexity of local brain areas and the topological complexity across brain areas, respectively. First, the transient complexity of voxel-wise brain map was calculated; compared with non-seafarers, seafarers showed decreased dynamic entropy values in the cerebellum and increased values in the left fusiform gyrus (BA20). Further, the complex network analysis based on brain entropy sequences revealed small-worldness in terms of topological complexity in both seafarers and non-seafarers, indicating that it is an inherent attribute of human the brain. In addition, seafarers showed a higher average path length and lower average clustering coefficient than non-seafarers, suggesting that the information processing ability is reduced in seafarers. Moreover, the reduction in efficiency of seafarers suggests that they have a less efficient processing network. To sum up, the proposed DBCA is effective for exploring the dynamic complexity changes in voxel-wise activity and region-wise connectivity, showing that occupational experience can reshape seafarers' dynamic brain complexity fingerprints.

Keywords: brain entropy; dynamical complexity; efficiency; graph theory; occupational neuroplasticity; seafarer; small-worldness.