Plasticity in gray and white: neuroimaging changes in brain structure during learning

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Mar 18;15(4):528-36. doi: 10.1038/nn.3045.


Human brain imaging has identified structural changes in gray and white matter that occur with learning. However, ascribing imaging measures to underlying cellular and molecular events is challenging. Here we review human neuroimaging findings of structural plasticity and then discuss cellular and molecular level changes that could underlie observed imaging effects. Greater dialog between researchers in these different fields would help to facilitate cross-talk between cellular and systems level explanations of how learning sculpts brain structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neuroimaging* / methods
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*