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It's not all in your car: functional and structural correlates of exceptional driving skills in professional racers.

Bernardi G, Cecchetti L, Handjaras G, Sani L, Gaglianese A, Ceccarelli R, Franzoni F, Galetta F, Santoro G, Goebel R, Ricciardi E, Pietrini P - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: Moreover, some of these brain regions, including the retrosplenial cortex, also had an increased gray matter density in professional car drivers.Furthermore, the retrosplenial cortex, which has been previously associated with the storage of observer-independent spatial maps, revealed a specific correlation with the individual driver's success in official competitions.These findings indicate that the brain functional and structural organization in highly trained racing-car drivers differs from that of subjects with an ordinary driving experience, suggesting that specific anatomo-functional changes may subtend the attainment of exceptional driving performance.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Experimental Pathology, Medical Biotechnologies, Infectivology and Epidemiology, University of Pisa Pisa, Italy ; Clinical Psychology Branch, University of Pisa, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana, Santa Chiara Pisa, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Driving is a complex behavior that requires the integration of multiple cognitive functions. While many studies have investigated brain activity related to driving simulation under distinct conditions, little is known about the brain morphological and functional architecture in professional competitive driving, which requires exceptional motor and navigational skills. Here, 11 professional racing-car drivers and 11 "naïve" volunteers underwent both structural and functional brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Subjects were presented with short movies depicting a Formula One car racing in four different official circuits. Brain activity was assessed in terms of regional response, using an Inter-Subject Correlation (ISC) approach, and regional interactions by mean of functional connectivity. In addition, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to identify specific structural differences between the two groups and potential interactions with functional differences detected by the ISC analysis. Relative to non-experienced drivers, professional drivers showed a more consistent recruitment of motor control and spatial navigation devoted areas, including premotor/motor cortex, striatum, anterior, and posterior cingulate cortex and retrosplenial cortex, precuneus, middle temporal cortex, and parahippocampus. Moreover, some of these brain regions, including the retrosplenial cortex, also had an increased gray matter density in professional car drivers. Furthermore, the retrosplenial cortex, which has been previously associated with the storage of observer-independent spatial maps, revealed a specific correlation with the individual driver's success in official competitions. These findings indicate that the brain functional and structural organization in highly trained racing-car drivers differs from that of subjects with an ordinary driving experience, suggesting that specific anatomo-functional changes may subtend the attainment of exceptional driving performance.

No MeSH data available.


Correlation between mean VBM-values in retrosplenial cortex and driving proficiency. In (A) is represented in red the portion of BA30 lying in the left parieto-occipital sulcus. This area appears to be the one, among those showing functional and structural group differences, characterized by a significant correlation between gray matter density and “driving proficiency index” (p < 0.05 small volume TFCE corrected). Task-related Inter-Subject Correlation values and gray matter density measures of both groups extracted from this region of interest are represented in (B,C) respectively. Panel (D) depicts the correlation between cortical gray matter density and the performance level achieved in the professional drivers group (red dots). [au]: arbitrary units.
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Figure 5: Correlation between mean VBM-values in retrosplenial cortex and driving proficiency. In (A) is represented in red the portion of BA30 lying in the left parieto-occipital sulcus. This area appears to be the one, among those showing functional and structural group differences, characterized by a significant correlation between gray matter density and “driving proficiency index” (p < 0.05 small volume TFCE corrected). Task-related Inter-Subject Correlation values and gray matter density measures of both groups extracted from this region of interest are represented in (B,C) respectively. Panel (D) depicts the correlation between cortical gray matter density and the performance level achieved in the professional drivers group (red dots). [au]: arbitrary units.

Mentions: Further, the correlation analysis between gray matter density and driving proficiency index (podia divided by number of races), carried out within the previously described overlapping areas, revealed a significant positive correlation in the left retrosplenial cortex, BA30 (p < 0.05, small volume TFCE corrected; Figure 5). Noteworthy, using the same statistical threshold, we did not find any brain area showing a negative correlation between gray matter density and driving proficiency index.


It's not all in your car: functional and structural correlates of exceptional driving skills in professional racers.

Bernardi G, Cecchetti L, Handjaras G, Sani L, Gaglianese A, Ceccarelli R, Franzoni F, Galetta F, Santoro G, Goebel R, Ricciardi E, Pietrini P - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Correlation between mean VBM-values in retrosplenial cortex and driving proficiency. In (A) is represented in red the portion of BA30 lying in the left parieto-occipital sulcus. This area appears to be the one, among those showing functional and structural group differences, characterized by a significant correlation between gray matter density and “driving proficiency index” (p < 0.05 small volume TFCE corrected). Task-related Inter-Subject Correlation values and gray matter density measures of both groups extracted from this region of interest are represented in (B,C) respectively. Panel (D) depicts the correlation between cortical gray matter density and the performance level achieved in the professional drivers group (red dots). [au]: arbitrary units.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4227572&req=5

Figure 5: Correlation between mean VBM-values in retrosplenial cortex and driving proficiency. In (A) is represented in red the portion of BA30 lying in the left parieto-occipital sulcus. This area appears to be the one, among those showing functional and structural group differences, characterized by a significant correlation between gray matter density and “driving proficiency index” (p < 0.05 small volume TFCE corrected). Task-related Inter-Subject Correlation values and gray matter density measures of both groups extracted from this region of interest are represented in (B,C) respectively. Panel (D) depicts the correlation between cortical gray matter density and the performance level achieved in the professional drivers group (red dots). [au]: arbitrary units.
Mentions: Further, the correlation analysis between gray matter density and driving proficiency index (podia divided by number of races), carried out within the previously described overlapping areas, revealed a significant positive correlation in the left retrosplenial cortex, BA30 (p < 0.05, small volume TFCE corrected; Figure 5). Noteworthy, using the same statistical threshold, we did not find any brain area showing a negative correlation between gray matter density and driving proficiency index.

Bottom Line: Moreover, some of these brain regions, including the retrosplenial cortex, also had an increased gray matter density in professional car drivers.Furthermore, the retrosplenial cortex, which has been previously associated with the storage of observer-independent spatial maps, revealed a specific correlation with the individual driver's success in official competitions.These findings indicate that the brain functional and structural organization in highly trained racing-car drivers differs from that of subjects with an ordinary driving experience, suggesting that specific anatomo-functional changes may subtend the attainment of exceptional driving performance.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Experimental Pathology, Medical Biotechnologies, Infectivology and Epidemiology, University of Pisa Pisa, Italy ; Clinical Psychology Branch, University of Pisa, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana, Santa Chiara Pisa, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Driving is a complex behavior that requires the integration of multiple cognitive functions. While many studies have investigated brain activity related to driving simulation under distinct conditions, little is known about the brain morphological and functional architecture in professional competitive driving, which requires exceptional motor and navigational skills. Here, 11 professional racing-car drivers and 11 "naïve" volunteers underwent both structural and functional brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Subjects were presented with short movies depicting a Formula One car racing in four different official circuits. Brain activity was assessed in terms of regional response, using an Inter-Subject Correlation (ISC) approach, and regional interactions by mean of functional connectivity. In addition, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to identify specific structural differences between the two groups and potential interactions with functional differences detected by the ISC analysis. Relative to non-experienced drivers, professional drivers showed a more consistent recruitment of motor control and spatial navigation devoted areas, including premotor/motor cortex, striatum, anterior, and posterior cingulate cortex and retrosplenial cortex, precuneus, middle temporal cortex, and parahippocampus. Moreover, some of these brain regions, including the retrosplenial cortex, also had an increased gray matter density in professional car drivers. Furthermore, the retrosplenial cortex, which has been previously associated with the storage of observer-independent spatial maps, revealed a specific correlation with the individual driver's success in official competitions. These findings indicate that the brain functional and structural organization in highly trained racing-car drivers differs from that of subjects with an ordinary driving experience, suggesting that specific anatomo-functional changes may subtend the attainment of exceptional driving performance.

No MeSH data available.