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Cognitive learning is associated with gray matter changes in healthy human individuals: A tensor-based morphometry study

Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Scientific Institute and University Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 08/2009; 48(3):585-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.07.009
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ABSTRACT Longitudinal voxel-based morphometry studies have demonstrated morphological changes in cortical structures following motor and cognitive learning. In this study, we applied, for the first time, tensor-based morphometry (TBM) to assess the short-term structural brain gray matter (GM) changes associated with cognitive learning in healthy subjects. Using a 3 T scanner, a 3D T1-weighted sequence was acquired from 32 students at baseline and after two weeks. Students were separated into two groups: 13 defined as "students in cognitive training", who underwent a two-week cognitive learning period, and 19 "students not in cognitive training", who were not involved in any teaching activity. GM changes were assessed using TBM and statistical parametric mapping. Baseline regional GM volume did not differ between the two groups. At follow up, compared to "students not in cognitive training", the "students in cognitive training" had a significant GM volume increase in the dorsomedial frontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, and the precuneus (p<0.001). These results suggest that cognitive learning results in short-term structural GM changes of neuronal networks of the human brain, which are known to be involved in cognition. This may have important implications for the development of rehabilitation strategies in patients with neurological diseases.

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    • "The method applied here has been successfully used in previous longitudinal morphological studies, yielding pathophysiologically plausible results in a wide variety of neurological conditions and experimental settings (e.g. Agosta et al. 2009; Brambati et al. 2009; Ceccarelli et al. 2009; Kipps et al. 2005; Tao et al. 2009; Filippi et al. 2010; Farbota et al. 2012). However, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report such effects in human cortical ischaemic stroke. "
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    Brain Structure and Function 06/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00429-014-0804-y · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    • "Effects were reported for cluster of voxels exceeding a cluster size threshold of p < 0.05 family wise error (FWE) corrected for multiple comparisons in the context of Gaussian random field theory and a voxel-level threshold of p < 0.001 (uncorrected). The rationale for choosing this statistical threshold was motivated by the fact that a lot of the published morphometric studies investigating learning-induced GM plasticity used a comparable threshold approach (e.g., Ceccarelli et al., 2009; Taubert et al., 2010; Bezzola et al., 2011; Hoekzema et al, 2011). Hence, we wanted to be consistent with the literature to ensure comparability across studies. "
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    Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 05/2012; 6:37. DOI:10.3389/fnsys.2012.00037
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    • "Poldrack, 2000). For example, a number of studies have demonstrated changes in gray-and/or white matter structure (Draganski et al., 2006; Ceccarelli et al., 2009; Lövdén et al., 2010b; Takeuchi et al., 2010; Garavan et al., 2000), and in the density of dopamine receptors (McNab et al., 2009). Interestingly, one study demonstrated a correspondence between regions that were activated during the trained task (i.e., mirror reading), regions that showed practice-related activation increases, and regions that showed changes of gray matter volume (Ilg et al., 2008). "
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    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 04/2012; 6:76. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00076 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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