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Neuroimage. 2010 Aug 1;52(1):9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.014. Epub 2010 Apr 13.

White matter neuroplastic changes in long-term trained players of the game of "Baduk" (GO): a voxel-based diffusion-tensor imaging study.

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Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience Center, Neuroscience Institute, Seoul National University Medical Research Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Currently, one of the most challenging issues in modern neuroscience is learning-induced neural plasticity. Many researchers have identified activation-dependent structural brain plasticity in gray and white matter. The game of Baduk is known to require many cognitive processes, and long-term training in such processes would be expected to cause structural changes in related brain areas. We conducted voxel-based analyses of diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) data and found that, compared to inexperienced controls, long-term trained Baduk players developed larger regions of white matter with increased fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the frontal, cingulum, and striato-thalamic areas that are related to attentional control, working memory, executive regulation, and problem-solving. In addition, inferior temporal regions with increased FA indicate that Baduk experts tend to develop a task-specific template for the game, as compared to controls. In contrast, decreased FA found in dorsolateral premotor and parietal areas indicate that Baduk experts were less likely than were controls to use structures related to load-dependent memory capacity. Right-side dominance in Baduk experts suggests that the tasks involved are mainly spatial processes. Altogether, long-term Baduk training appears to cause structural brain changes associated with many of the cognitive aspects necessary for game play, and investigation of the mechanism underpinning such changes might be helpful for improving higher-order cognitive capacities, such as learning, abstract reasoning, and self-control, which can facilitate education and cognitive therapies.

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