Pattern Similarity Analyses of FrontoParietal Task Coding: Individual Variation and Genetic Influences

Joset A. Etzel, Ya'el Courtney, Caitlin E. Carey, Maria Z. Gehred, Arpana Agrawal, Todd S. Braver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Pattern similarity analyses are increasingly used to characterize coding properties of brain regions, but relatively few have focused on cognitive control processes in FrontoParietal regions. Here, we use the Human Connectome Project (HCP) N-back task functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) dataset to examine individual differences and genetic influences on the coding of working memory load (0-back, 2-back) and perceptual category (Face, Place). Participants were grouped into 105 monozygotic twin, 78 dizygotic twin, 99 nontwin sibling, and 100 unrelated pairs. Activation pattern similarity was used to test the hypothesis that FrontoParietal regions would have higher similarity for same load conditions, while Visual regions would have higher similarity in same perceptual category conditions. Results confirmed this highly robust regional double dissociation in neural coding, which also predicted individual differences in behavioral performance. In pair-based analyses, anatomically selective genetic relatedness effects were observed: relatedness predicted greater activation pattern similarity in FrontoParietal only for load coding and in Visual only for perceptual coding. Further, in related pairs, the similarity of load coding in FrontoParietal regions was uniquely associated with behavioral performance. Together, these results highlight the power of task fMRI pattern similarity analyses for detecting key coding and heritability features of brain regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3167-3183
Number of pages17
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 14 2020


  • N-back
  • heritability
  • prefrontal
  • twins
  • working memory


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