Learning is a process which induces plastic changes in the synapses and connections across different regions of the brain. It is hypothesized that these new connections can be tracked with resting state functional connectivity MRI. While most of the evidence of learning-induced plasticity arises from previous human data, data from sedated rats that had undergone training for either 1 day or 5 days in a Morris Watermaze is presented. Seed points were taken from the somatosensory and visual cortices, and the hippocampal CA3 to detect connectivity changes. The data demonstrates that 5-day trained rats showed increased correlations between the hippocampal CA3 and thalamus, septum and cingulate cortex, compared to swim control or naïve animals. Seven days after the training, persistent but reorganized networks toward the cortex were observed. Data from the 1-day trained rats, on the contrary, showed connectivity similar to the swim control and less persistent. The connectivity in several regions was highly correlated with the behavioral performance in these animals. The data demonstrates that longitudinal changes following learning-induced plasticity can be detected and tracked with resting state connectivity.
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