Spontaneous brain activity predicts learning ability of foreign sounds

Noelia Ventura-Campos, Ana Sanjuán, Julio González, María Ángeles Palomar-García, Aina Rodríguez-Pujadas, Núria Sebastián-Gallés, Gustavo Deco, César Ávila

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64 Citations (Scopus)


Can learning capacity of the human brain be predicted from initial spontaneous functional connectivity (FC) between brain areas involved in a task?Wecombined task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) before and after training with a Hindi dental-retroflex nonnative contrast. Previous fMRI results were replicated, demonstrating that this learning recruited the left insula/frontal operculum and the left superior parietal lobe, among other areas of the brain. Crucially, resting-state FC (rs-FC) between these two areas at pretraining predicted individual differences in learning outcomes after distributed (Experiment 1) and intensive training (Experiment 2). Furthermore, this rs-FC was reduced at posttraining, a change that may also account for learning. Finally, resting-state network analyses showed that the mechanism underlying this reduction of rs-FC was mainly a transfer in intrinsic activity of the left frontal operculum/anterior insula from the left frontoparietal network to the salience network. Thus, rs-FC may contribute to predict learning ability and to understand how learning modifies the functioning of the brain. The discovery of this correspondence between initial spontaneous brain activity in task-related areas and posttraining performance opens new avenues to find predictors of learning capacities in the brain using task-related fMRI and rs-fMRI combined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9295-9305
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2013
Externally publishedYes

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