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J Neurosci. 2010 Mar 3;30(9):3297-303. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4611-09.2010.

Training of working memory impacts structural connectivity.

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Division of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan.


Working memory is the limited capacity storage system involved in the maintenance and manipulation of information over short periods of time. Individual capacity of working memory is associated with the integrity of white matter in the frontoparietal regions. It is unknown to what extent the integrity of white matter underlying the working memory system is plastic. Using voxel-based analysis (VBA) of fractional anisotropy (FA) measures of fiber tracts, we investigated the effect of working memory training on structural connectivity in an interventional study. The amount of working memory training correlated with increased FA in the white matter regions adjacent to the intraparietal sulcus and the anterior part of the body of the corpus callosum after training. These results showed training-induced plasticity in regions that are thought to be critical in working memory. As changes in myelination lead to FA changes in diffusion tensor imaging, a possible mechanism for the observed FA change is increased myelination after training. Observed structural changes may underlie previously reported improvement of working memory capacity, improvement of other cognitive functions, and altered functional activity following working memory training.

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