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Dynamics of the human structural connectome underlying working memory training

Caeyenberghs, Karen, Metzler-Baddeley, Claudia, Foley, Sonya and Jones, Derek K. 2016. Dynamics of the human structural connectome underlying working memory training. Journal of Neuroscience 36 (14) , pp. 4056-4066. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1973-15.2016

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Brain region-specific changes have been demonstrated with a variety of cognitive training interventions. The effect of cognitive training on brain subnetworks in humans, however, remains largely unknown, with studies limited to functional networks. Here, we used a well-established working memory training program and state-of-the art neuroimaging methods in 40 healthy adults (21 females, mean age 26.5 years). Near and far-transfer training effects were assessed using computerized working memory and executive function tasks. Adaptive working memory training led to improvement on (non)trained working memory tasks and generalization to tasks of reasoning and inhibition. Graph theoretical analysis of the structural (white matter) network connectivity (“connectome”) revealed increased global integration within a frontoparietal attention network following adaptive working memory training compared with the nonadaptive group. Furthermore, the impact on the outcome of graph theoretical analyses of different white matter metrics to infer “connection strength” was evaluated. Increased efficiency of the frontoparietal network was best captured when using connection strengths derived from MR metrics that are thought to be more sensitive to differences in myelination (putatively indexed by the [quantitative] longitudinal relaxation rate, R1) than previously used diffusion MRI metrics (fractional anisotropy or fiber-tracking recovered streamlines). Our findings emphasize the critical role of specific microstructural markers in providing important hints toward the mechanisms underpinning training-induced plasticity that may drive working memory improvement in clinical populations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: Karen Caeyenberghs and Claudia Metzler-Baddeley are joint first authors of this paper. This article is freely available online through the J Neurosci Author Open Choice option.
Publisher: Society for Neuroscience
ISSN: 1529-2401
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 September 2018
Date of Acceptance: 4 February 2016
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2021 15:15

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