Activation of Brain Function in a Computer-based Neuropsychological Test Estimated Using fMRI

Atsushi KODABASHI, Shin'ichiro KAMIYA, Toshiaki OTSUBO, Yuji HIGASHI, Miwa TSUJI, Toshiro FUJIMOTO, Masaki SEKINE, Masayuki NAMBU, Toshiyo TAMURA
Vol. 3 (2014) p. 72-79

In this study we investigated the cerebral correlation of computer-and paper-based neuropsychological tests commonly used as measures of frontal lobe function. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to record the brain activity of 12 right-handed, healthy, young adults (five males, seven females, mean age 26.4 years) during performance of the Trail Making Test (TMT) using a special writing device. In the paper-based TMT, subjects were presented with a random distribution of numbers and asked to rank them in ascending order. In computer-based neuropsychological testing (CBT), subjects were asked to rank numbers in ascending order by touching the numbers on the screen. Despite the atypical use of a virtual stylus, fMRI results in the present study illustrated a distinct left-sided dorsolateral and medial frontal activation during both paper- and computer-based versions of the TMT. These findings are in agreement with previous results indicating the sensitivity of frontal regions in the left hemisphere to the TMT task. In addition, the present study indicates that both versions of the TMT result in similar activation of frontal brain regions during cognitive tasks. Finally, these results suggest that CBT may be effectively employed as a neuropsychological testing tool.