Memory training impacts short-term changes in aging white matter: A Longitudinal Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study
Article first published online: 5 AUG 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Human Brain Mapping
Volume 33, Issue 10, pages 2390–2406, October 2012
How to Cite
Engvig, A., Fjell, A. M., Westlye, L. T., Moberget, T., Sundseth, Ø., Larsen, V. A. and Walhovd, K. B. (2012), Memory training impacts short-term changes in aging white matter: A Longitudinal Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study. Hum. Brain Mapp., 33: 2390–2406. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21370
- Issue published online: 11 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 5 AUG 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 MAY 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 17 MAR 2011
- Manuscript Received: 19 NOV 2010
- The Research Council of Norway. Grant Numbers: 177404/W50, 175066/D15
- Kavli Research Center for Ageing and Dementia
- white matter;
A growing body of research indicates benefits of cognitive training in older adults, but the neuronal mechanisms underlying the effect of cognitive intervention remains largely unexplored. Neuroimaging methods are sensitive to subtle changes in brain structure and show potential for enhancing our understanding of both aging- and training-related neuronal plasticity. Specifically, studies using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) suggest substantial changes in white matter (WM) in aging, but it is not known whether cognitive training might modulate these structural alterations. We used tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) optimized for longitudinal analysis to delineate the effects of 8 weeks intensive memory training on WM microstructure. 41 participants (mean age 61 years) matched for age, sex and education were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. All participants underwent MRI-scanning and neuropsychological assessments at the beginning and end of the study. Longitudinal analysis across groups revealed significant increase in frontal mean diffusivity (MD), indicating that DTI is sensitive to WM structural alterations over a 10-week interval. Further, group analysis demonstrated positive effects of training on the short-term changes. Participants in the training group showed a relative increase in fractional anisotropy (FA) compared with controls. Further, a significant relationship between memory improvement and change in FA was found, suggesting a possible functional significance of the reported changes. The training effect on FA seemed to be driven by a relative decrease in radial diffusivity, which might indicate a role for myelin-related processes in WM plasticity. Hum Brain Mapp 33:2390–2406, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.