Analyzing Complex Problem Solving by Dynamic Brain Networks

Alchihabi A., EKMEKCİ Ö., Kivilcim B. B., Newman S. D., Yarman Vural F. T.

FRONTIERS IN NEUROINFORMATICS, vol.15, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.3389/fninf.2021.670052
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: fMRI, machine learning, brain networks, tower of London (TOL), complex problem solving, TASK-PERFORMANCE, TOWER, LONDON, FMRI, CONNECTIVITY, ACTIVATION, PATTERNS, VERSION, MEMORY, STATES
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Complex problem solving is a high level cognitive task of the human brain, which has been studied over the last decade. Tower of London (TOL) is a game that has been widely used to study complex problem solving. In this paper, we aim to explore the underlying cognitive network structure among anatomical regions of complex problem solving and its subtasks, namely planning and execution. A new computational model for estimating a brain network at each time instant of fMRI recordings is proposed. The suggested method models the brain network as an Artificial Neural Network, where the weights correspond to the relationships among the brain anatomic regions. The first step of the model is preprocessing that manages to decrease the spatial redundancy while increasing the temporal resolution of the fMRI recordings. Then, dynamic brain networks are estimated using the preprocessed fMRI signal to train the Artificial Neural Network. The properties of the estimated brain networks are studied in order to identify regions of interest, such as hubs and subgroups of densely connected brain regions. The representation power of the suggested brain network is shown by decoding the planning and execution subtasks of complex problem solving. Our findings are consistent with the previous results of experimental psychology. Furthermore, it is observed that there are more hubs during the planning phase compared to the execution phase, and the clusters are more strongly connected during planning compared to execution.