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Radiology and Medical Imaging

Diffusion MRI of Structural Brain Plasticity Induced by a Learning and Memory Task
Published: Monday, June 20, 2011
Author: Tamar Blumenfeld-Katzir et al.

by Tamar Blumenfeld-Katzir, Ofer Pasternak, Michael Dagan, Yaniv Assaf


Activity-induced structural remodeling of dendritic spines and glial cells was recently proposed as an important factor in neuroplasticity and suggested to accompany the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP). Although T1 and diffusion MRI have been used to study structural changes resulting from long-term training, the cellular basis of the findings obtained and their relationship to neuroplasticity are poorly understood.

Methodology/Principal Finding

Here we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine the microstructural manifestations of neuroplasticity in rats that performed a spatial navigation task. We found that DTI can be used to define the selective localization of neuroplasticity induced by different tasks and that this process is age-dependent in cingulate cortex and corpus callosum and age-independent in the dentate gyrus.


We relate the observed DTI changes to the structural plasticity that occurs in astrocytes and discuss the potential of MRI for probing structural neuroplasticity and hence indirectly localizing LTP.