Context Matters: Situational Stress Impedes Functional Reorganization of Intrinsic Brain Connectivity during Problem-Solving

M. Liu, R.A. Backer, R.C. Amey, E.E. Splan, A. Magerman, C.E. Forbes

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: research has established a relationship between individual differences in brain activity in a resting state and individual differences in behavior. Conversely, when individuals are engaged in various tasks, certain task-evoked reorganization occurs in brain functional connectivity, which can consequently influence individuals' performance as well. Here, we show that resting state and task-dependent state brain patterns interact as a function of contexts engendering stress. Findings revealed that when the resting state connectome was examined during performance, the relationship between connectome strength and performance only remained for participants under stress (who also performed worse than all other groups on the math task), suggesting that stress preserved brain patterns indicative of underperformance whereas non-stressed individuals spontaneously transitioned out of these patterns. Results imply that stress may impede the reorganization of a functional network in task-evoked brain states. This hypothesis was subsequently verified using graph theory measurements on a functional network, independent of behavior. For participants under stress, the functional network showed less topological alterations compared to non-stressed individuals during the transition from resting state to task-evoked state. Implications are discussed for network dynamics as a function of context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2111-2124
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


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