Long-term motor training induced changes in regional cerebral blood flow in both task and resting states.
Xiong J., Ma L., Wang B., Narayana S., Duff EP., Egan GF., Fox PT.
Neuroimaging studies of functional activation often only reflect differentiated involvement of brain regions compared between task performance and control states. Signals common for both states are typically not revealed. Previous motor learning studies have shown that extensive motor skill training can induce profound changes in regional activity in both task and control states. To address the issue of brain activity changes in the resting-state, we explored long-term motor training induced neuronal and physiological changes in normal human subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). Ten healthy subjects performed a finger movement task daily for four weeks, during which three sessions of fMRI images and two sessions of PET images were acquired. Using a classical data analysis strategy, we found that the brain activation increased first and then returned to the pre-training, replicating previous findings. Interestingly, we also observed that motor skill training induced significant increases in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in both task and resting states as the practice progressed. The apparent decrease in activation may actually result from a greater increase in activity in the resting state, rather than a decrease in the task state. By showing that training can affect the resting state, our findings have profound implications for the interpretation of functional activations in neuroimaging studies. Combining changes in resting state with activation data should greatly enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of motor-skill learning.