Additive and interaction effects of working memory and motor sequence training on brain functional connectivity

Priska Zuber, Laura Gaetano, Alessandra Griffa, Manuel Huerbin, Ludovico Pedullà, Laura Bonzano, Anna Altermatt, Charidimos Tsagkas, Katrin Parmar, Patric Hagmann, Jens Wuerfel, Ludwig Kappos, Till Sprenger, Olaf Sporns, Stefano Magon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although shared behavioral and neural mechanisms between working memory (WM) and motor sequence learning (MSL) have been suggested, the additive and interactive effects of training have not been studied. This study aimed at investigating changes in brain functional connectivity (FC) induced by sequential (WM + MSL and MSL + WM) and combined (WM × MSL) training programs. 54 healthy subjects (27 women; mean age: 30.2 ± 8.6 years) allocated to three training groups underwent twenty-four 40-min training sessions over 6 weeks and four cognitive assessments including functional MRI. A double-baseline approach was applied to account for practice effects. Test performances were compared using linear mixed-effects models and t-tests. Resting state fMRI data were analysed using FSL. Processing speed, verbal WM and manual dexterity increased following training in all groups. MSL + WM training led to additive effects in processing speed and verbal WM. Increased FC was found after training in a network including the right angular gyrus, left superior temporal sulcus, right superior parietal gyrus, bilateral middle temporal gyri and left precentral gyrus. No difference in FC was found between double baselines. Results indicate distinct patterns of resting state FC modulation related to sequential and combined WM and MSL training suggesting a relevance of the order of training performance. These observations could provide new insight for the planning of effective training/rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23089
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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