Concurrent changes of brain functional connectivity and motor variability when adapting to task constraints


In behavioral neuroscience, the adaptability of humans facing different constraints has been addressed on one side at the brain level, where a variety of functional networks dynamically support the same performance, and on the other side at the behavioral level, where fractal properties in sensorimotor variables have been considered as a hallmark of adaptability. To bridge the gap between the two levels of observation, we have jointly investigated the changes of network connectivity in the sensorimotor cortex assessed by modularity analysis and the properties of motor variability assessed by multifractal analysis during a prolonged tapping task. Four groups of participants had to produce the same tapping performance while being deprived from 0, 1, 2, or 3 sensory feedbacks simultaneously (auditory and/or visual and/or tactile). Whereas tapping performance was not statistically different across groups, the number of brain networks involved and the degree of multifractality of the inter-tap interval series were significantly correlated, increasing as a function of feedback deprivation. Our findings provide first evidence that concomitant changes in brain modularity and multifractal properties characterize adaptations underlying unchanged performance. We discuss implications of our findings with respect to the degeneracy properties of complex systems, and the entanglement of adaptability and effective adaptation.

Frontiers in Physiology