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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Significant Group-Level Brain Activity during Trail-Making Test Performance


The trail-making test (TMT) is a neuropsychological test that is often used to identify cognitive impairment and dementia. This paper replicates a study that utilized the TMT and an fMRI to determine differences in brain activity across 36 healthy participants between the ages of 52 and 85 years old. Two TMTs were given, three trials of TMT-A and three trials of TMT-B, and data was collected on the speed and accuracy of which the participants completed each of the six trials. The replication is focused specifically on determining if there are neuroanatomical regions of the brain that show significantly different activity during the TMT-A and TMT-B, as well as if there was positive or negative activation in those areas. Significant group-level activation in brain regions during the TMT-A versus TMT-B was found using Python, and activation in those significant clusters during both tests was compared using a t-test. The replication yielded different t-statistics compared to the original study as slightly different significant clusters were analyzed. The hypothesis was that overall, both trail-making tests would show positive activation in regions of the brain involved with spatial learning, coordination, and memory retrieval when compared to group-level activation of the control condition. Moreover, since TMT-A and TMT-B require different cognitive skills, it was hypothesized that the TMT-B would show increased activation compared to TMT-A in regions of the brain dealing with task-switching and memory retrieval.

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