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ABSTRACT: Although changes in brain function induced by cognitive training have been examined, functional plasticity associated with specific training strategies is still relatively unexplored. In this study, we examined changes in brain function during a complex visuomotor task following training using the Space Fortress video game. To assess brain function, participants completed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after 30 h of training with one of two training regimens: Hybrid Variable-Priority Training (HVT), with a focus on improving specific skills and managing task priority, or Full Emphasis Training (FET), in which participants simply practiced the game to obtain the highest overall score. Control participants received only 6 h of FET. Compared to FET, HVT learners reached higher performance on the game and showed less brain activation in areas related to visuo-spatial attention and goal-directed movement after training. Compared to the control group, HVT exhibited less brain activation in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), coupled with greater performance improvement. Region-of-interest analysis revealed that the reduction in brain activation was correlated with improved performance on the task. This study sheds light on the neurobiological mechanisms of improved learning from directed training (HVT) over non-directed training (FET), which is related to visuo-spatial attention and goal-directed motor planning, while separating the practice-based benefit, which is related to executive control and rule management.
Behavioural brain research 04/2012; 232(2):348-57. · 3.22 Impact Factor