Jannatul Kabir ‘22

Janntul Kabir

Major: Integrative Neuroscience
Bio: Jannatul Kabir is a first-generation Bengali-American in the Integrative Neuroscience program at Fordham Lincoln Center. Her  research includes engaging in active analysis on neuroimaging data using MATLAB scripting and graphics to explain cortical behavior during diverse cognitive tasks. She plans to attend PA school in the future.

Title of Research: Lights, Camera, Action: Analyzing fMRI Data through Voxel Searchlights and Representational Similarity Analysis to Identify Local Cognitive Representations in the Brain
Mentor: Dr. Daniel Leeds, Department of Computer and Information Sciences

Abstract: Previous studies have revealed that four latent variables, or reference abilities (RAs), can serve as broader elements of cognition that can help frame age-related changes in brain activities: these being vocabulary, perceptual speed, fluid reasoning, and episodic memory. Our aim is to confirm the RA groupings by locating regions in the brain supporting RA or other cognitive groupings, we further study whether these groups are affected by age. Two hundred seventy two clinically healthy participants performed 12 cognitive tests, three tasks for each reference ability while undergoing fMRI scans. The participants were divided into three groups: young (ages 20-40), middle (ages 41-60), and old (61-80). We analyzed the fMRI data by conducting voxel searchlight and representational similarity analysis on the localized voxel responses to each of twelve tasks, generating a 12x12 matrix comparing local task responses. Response patterns were analyzed from 5x5x5 voxel searchlight cubes.  To identify brain regions that group tasks similarly,  a k-means clustering algorithm was used on the 12x12 task matrices. Across all age groups, we found four task groupings: (a) the most abundant grouping searchlights showed similar voxel responses for all tasks; (b) searchlights showed similar voxel response patterns for vocabulary and perceptual speed RA, and a separate set of similar patterns for fluid reasoning and episodic memory RAs; (c) searchlights showed similar responses for all tasks and for all RAs except picture naming in the vocabulary RA; and, (d) searchlights showed similar voxel response patterns for tasks in fluid reasoning RA, and showed a separate weaker similarity among the three other RAs. These patterns were consistent across all age groups. These results support not only the existence of the initial four RAs but also suggest that certain tasks may span multiple RAs. It also suggests localization of different cognitive processes in various regions of the brain, lending support to past studies of cognitive ability networks in the brain.