ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (2): 173-183.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00173

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Altered structural plasticity in early adulthood after badminton training

BAI Xuejun1,2,SHAO Mengling1,2,LIU Ting1,2,YIN Jianzhong3,JIN Hua1,2()   

  1. 1 Key Research Base of Humanities and Social Sciences of Ministry of Education, Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China
    2 Faculty of Psychology, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China
    3 Department of Radiology, Tianjin First Center Hospital, Tianjin 300192, China
  • Received:2018-11-08 Published:2020-02-25 Online:2019-12-24
  • Contact: Hua JIN


Brain imaging studies have found that the athletes engaged in racquet sports showed different brain structure and function based on expert-novice paradigm. However, the present findings cannot fully interpret the role of sport experience in brain plasticity. For example, it is still not clear whether such differences in brain structure are due to training experience or innate differences. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether young adults' brain structures are influenced by a short period of badminton training experience.

A group of young adults (23 ~ 27 years) without any professional or amateur sports training were recruited to take part in the experiment. They were randomly divided into either the experimental group (21 non-athletes) or the control group (17 non-athletes). Participants in the experimental group were trained for 12 weeks (one hour each time and three times each week), and participants in the control group did not attend any regular sport trainings during this period. Structure imaging and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques were used to assess the effects of badminton training on the brain structural plasticity in young adults. T1 images and DTI data for all participants were collected before and after the intervention. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) were used to perform a whole-brain analysis of the T1 and DTI data respectively. A 2 (participant group: experimental group, control group) × 2 (test time: pretest, posttest) repeated measure ANOVA was used to perform statistical analysis.

The results showed that there were significant interactions between participant group and test time for the gray matter volume in the left inferior occipital lobe, middle temporal gyrus and inferior temporal gyrus. Specifically, participants in the experiment group exhibited increased gray matter volume in the above brain regions after the training, whilst participants in the control group showed decreased gray matter volume in the left middle temporal gyrus at posttest as compared to pretest. Furthermore, for the participants in the control group, there were no significant differences between pretest and posttest in the volume of left inferior occipital lobe and inferior temporal gyrus. In relation with the white matter microstructures, the experiment group had increased fractional anisotropy (FA) in the bilateral posterior limb of internal capsule and the superior corona radiate in posttest as compared to pretest. And the increased FA was induced by decreased radial diffusivity (RD). In contrast, the control group had decreased FA and increased RD in the above fibers at posttest relative to pretest.

Taken together, these results suggest that badminton training increased the gray matter volume in the brain regions related to visual motion perception processing and increased the myelin sheath thickness of the fibers associated with motor learning. These results imply that in early adulthood, the gray matter and white matter of the brain might have plasticity to some extent.

Key words: badminton training, early adulthood, brain plasticity

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