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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

Background

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.

Conclusion/Significance

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.

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