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Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Jan 4;10:660. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00660. eCollection 2016.

Morphological and Functional Differences between Athletes and Novices in Cortical Neuronal Networks.

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School of Physical Education and Coaching, Shanghai University of Sport Shanghai, China.
Shanghai Punan Hospital of Pudong New District Shanghai, China.
Institutes of Psychological Sciences, HangZhou Normal University Hangzhou, China.
School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport Shanghai, China.
Division of Neurology, Krembil Neuroscience Centre and Toronto Western Research Institute, University Health Network, University of Toronto Toronto, ON, Canada.
School of Economics and Management, Shanghai University of Sport Shanghai, China.


The cortical structural and functional differences in athletes and novices were investigated with a cross-sectional paradigm. We measured the gray matter volumes and resting-state functional connectivity in 21 basketball players and 21 novices with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. It was found that gray matter volume in the left anterior insula (AI), inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), inferior parietal lobule (IPL) and right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), precuneus is greater in basketball players than that in novices. These five brain regions were selected as the seed regions for testing the resting-state functional connectivity in the second experiment. We found higher functional connectivity in default mode network, salience network and executive control network in basketball players compared to novices. We conclude that the morphology and functional connectivity in cortical neuronal networks in athletes and novices are different.


basketball player; magnetic resonance imaging; motor expertise; plasticity; resting state functional connectivity

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