On the Role of Situational Stressors in the Disruption of Global Neural Network Stability during Problem Solving

Mengting Liu, Rachel C. Amey, Chad E. Forbes

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


When individuals are placed in stressful situations, they are likely to exhibit deficits in cognitive capacity over and above situational demands. Despite this, individuals may still persevere and ultimately succeed in these situations. Little is known, however, about neural network properties that instantiate success or failure in both neutral and stressful situations, particularly with respect to regions integral for problem-solving processes that are necessary for optimal performance on more complex tasks. In this study, we outline how hidden Markov modeling based on multivoxel pattern analysis can be used to quantify unique brain states underlying complex network interactions that yield either successful or unsuccessful problem solving in more neutral or stressful situations. We provide evidence that brain network stability and states underlying synchronous interactions in regions integral for problem-solving processes are key predictors of whether individuals succeed or fail in stressful situations. Findings also suggested that individuals utilize discriminate neural patterns in successfully solving problems in stressful or neutral situations. Findings overall highlight how hidden Markov modeling can provide myriad possibilities for quantifying and better understanding the role of global network interactions in the problem-solving process and how the said interactions predict success or failure in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2037-2053
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


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