Role of prefrontal cortex during Sudoku task

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fNIRS

Role of prefrontal cortex during Sudoku task: fNIRS study.

Abstract
Background: Sudoku is a popular cognitively stimulating leisure-time activity. Many studies have been directed toward finding an algorithm to solve Sudoku, but the investigation of the neural substrates involved in Sudoku has been challenging.
Methods: Sudoku task was divided into two steps to understand the differential function of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) while applying heuristic rules. PFC activity was recorded at 16 optode locations using functional near infrared spectroscopy. Classical two-way analysis of variance as well as general linear model-based approach was used to analyze the data from 28 noise-free recordings obtained from right-handed participants.
Results: Post hoc analysis showed a significant increase in oxyhemoglobin concentrations and decrease in deoxyhemoglobin concentrations at all 16 optode locations during step 1 (3 × 3 subgrids) and step 2 (easy level 9 × 9 Sudoku) when compared with the rest (p < 0.0001). Contrasting the step 2 – step 1 revealed that medial regions of PFC were preferentially activated.
Conclusion: Both the medial and lateral regions of PFC are activated during Sudoku task. However, the medial regions of PFC play a differential role, especially when we consider searching and selecting the heuristic rules. Thus, Sudoku may be used for cognitive remediation training in neuropsychiatric disorders involving PFC.

PMID: 33335780 [PubMed]

Transl Neurosci. 2020;11(1):419-427

Authors: Ashlesh P, Deepak KK, Preet KK

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