Correlation between brain regions in female gamers: statistical analysis of fMRI data

This research aims at finding statistically relevant evidence of differences in brain activity between (video) gamers and non-gamers, moving from public datasets and focusing on correlations between brain areas using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The analysis is carried out in four stages: i) data pre-processing, ii) extraction of the correlation matrix from the times series, iii) statistical tests, and iv ) network analysis. Pre-processing is performed with a standard pipeline composed of i) brain extraction, ii) spatial normalization, and iii) reduction of the noise (for instance, physical movement of the subject during the experiment; involvement of non-relevant parts of the brain); the correlation matrix of each subject is calculated by comparing the time series of the signal of the brain areas; p-values are estimated by using both parametric and non-parametric tests; a network is therefore built with Louvain algorithm, to highlight recurrent group-specific clusters. The results suggest that there are differences on a local level, specifically in the correlation between the following areas: the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (pars triangularis) and the Inferior Temporal Gyrus (anterior division); the Temporal Fusiform Cortex (posterior division) and the Frontal Pole; the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (pars triangularis) and Temporal Fusiform Cortex (posterior division); the Heschl’s Gyrus (including H1 and H2) and the Planum Temporale. In the first three cases, gamers have negative correlations, while non-gamers have positive ones. In the fourth case, gamers show a much higher positive correlation. However, no significant differences have been found globally, bringing to the pro tempore conclusion that no recurrent clusters in communities of either group analyzed emerge through a network analysis carried out via Louvain’s method.