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Dynamic brain network changes reflect neuroplasticity: molecular and cognitive evidence

By Zhaown Liu, Xiao Xiao, Kai Zhang, Qi Zhao, Xinyi Cao, Chunbo Li, Min Wang, Trevor W. Robbins, Barbara J Sahakian, Jie Zhang, Jianfeng Feng

Posted 08 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/695122

Resting-state functional brain networks demonstrate dynamic changes at the scale of seconds. However, their genetic mechanisms and profound cognitive relevance remain less explored. We identified 459 Bonferroni-corrected genes, by associating temporal variability of regional functional connectivity patterns with Allen Brain gene expression profiles across the whole brain. These genes are partially verified in developing human brain gene expression in the BrainSpan Atlas, and are found to be involved in the enrichment of short- and long-term plasticity processes. The former process depends on synaptic plasticity, involving ion transmembrane transport, action potential propagation, and modulation. The latter process depends on structural plasticity, including axonal genesis, development, and guidance. Results from a longitudinal cognitive training study further revealed that baseline variability of hippocampal network predicted cognitive ability changes after three months of training. Our genetic association results suggest that the short-term plasticity processes may account for the rapid changes of regional functional connectivity, while the underlying long-term plasticity processes explain why temporal variability can predict long-term learning outcomes. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that measuring the dynamic brain network can lead to a non-invasive quantification of neuroplasticity.

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