Can ongoing fMRI BOLD signals predict fluctuations in swiftness of a person's response to sporadic cognitive demands? This is an important issue because it clarifies whether intrinsic brain dynamics, for which spatio-temporal patterns are expressed as temporally coherent networks (TCNs), have effects not only on sensory or motor processes, but also on cognitive processes. Predictivity has been affirmed, although to a limited extent. Expecting a predictive effect on executive performance for a wider range of TCNs constituting the cingulo-opercular, fronto-parietal, and default mode networks, we conducted an fMRI study using a version of the color-word Stroop task that was specifically designed to put a higher load on executive control, with the aim of making its fluctuations more detectable. We explored the relationships between the fluctuations in ongoing pre-trial activity in TCNs and the task response time (RT). The results revealed the existence of TCNs in which fluctuations in activity several seconds before the onset of the trial predicted RT fluctuations for the subsequent trial. These TCNs were distributed in the cingulo-opercular and fronto-parietal networks, as well as in perceptual and motor networks. Our results suggest that intrinsic brain dynamics in these networks constitute "cognitive readiness," which plays an active role especially in situations where information for anticipatory attention control is unavailable. Fluctuations in these networks lead to fluctuations in executive control performance.
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