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Cortex. 2013 Sep;49(8):2106-25. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.09.007. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Effects of working memory training on functional connectivity and cerebral blood flow during rest.

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Smart Ageing International Research Center, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.


Working memory (WM) training (WMT) alters the task-related brain activity and structure of the external attention system (EAS). We investigated whether WMT also alters resting-state brain mechanisms, which are assumed to reflect intrinsic brain activity and connectivity. Our study subjects were subjected to a 4-week WMT program and brain scans before and after the intervention for determining changes of functional connectivity and regional cerebral blood flow during rest (resting-FC/resting-rCBF). Compared with no-intervention, WMT (a) increased resting-FC between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and precuneus, which are key nodes of the default mode network (DMN), (b) decreased resting-FC between mPFC and the right posterior parietal cortex/right lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), which are key nodes of the EAS, and (c) increased resting-rCBF in the right LPFC. However, the training-related decreases in resting-FC between the key DMN node and the nodes of EAS were only observed when the whole brain signal was regressed out in individual analyses, and these changes were not observed when the whole brain signal was not regressed out in individual analyses. Further analyses indicated that these differences may be mediated by a weak but a widespread increase in resting-FC between the nodes of EAS and activity of multiple bilateral areas across the brain. These results showed that WMT induces plasticity in neural mechanisms involving DMN and the EAS during rest and indicated that intrinsic brain activity and connectivity can be affected by cognitive training.


Cerebral blood flow; Functional connectivity; Plasticity; Rest; Working memory training

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