Research ArticleBEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE

Structural plasticity of the social brain: Differential change after socio-affective and cognitive mental training

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Science Advances  04 Oct 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 10, e1700489
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700489
  • Fig. 1 Training design and overall change.

    (A) Training design of the 9-month ReSource intervention. After baseline testing (T0), participants trained Presence followed by Affect and Perspective (TC1) or Presence followed by Perspective and Affect (TC2). An RCC not undergoing any training was also studied. A further Affect cohort (TC3) was included to specifically compare Affect to Presence training in comparable testing intervals. Note that the full design of the ReSource Project also included follow-up measurements (T4), which were not assessed in the current study. (B) Training modules and core daily practices of each module. Details can be found in Singer et al. (44) and Materials and Methods. (C) Thinning in RCC (T0→T1, n = 72; T1→T2, n = 65; T2→T3, n = 68) over the full duration of the ReSource study. No significant increases were observed in these participants. (D) Differential structural increases in the three training modules (Presence, n = 132; Perspective, n = 120; Affect, n = 193), contrasted against each other across time points (T0→T1, T1→T2, and T2→T3) and in all training groups (TC1, TC2, and TC3). Structural change in Presence (yellow; TC1 and TC2, T0→T1), Affect (red; TC3, T0→T1; TC1, T1→T2; TC2, T2→T3), and Perspective (green; TC2, T1→T2; TC1, T2→T3). Each training module was contrasted against the average effect of the other two modules, serving as an active control condition. The findings were corrected for multiple comparisons using random field theory for nonisotropic images (105) controlling the probability of reporting an FWE of <0.05 [cluster-defining threshold (CDT), P = 0.025]. The findings significant at an FWE of <0.05 with a conservative CDT (P = 0.001) are highlighted with black outlines. (E) Bar charts of mean change ± 95% confidence interval of the combined clusters of relative increase in each module, plotted per cohort. The colors represent the content of the training or RCC (blue).

  • Fig. 2 Behavioral modulation of brain change.

    (A) Positive modulation of brain change by increases in (i) attentional performance assessed in the cued flanker task (47) after Presence (n = 102) (yellow; TC1, T0→T1; TC2, T0→T1), (ii) compassion ratings (8) after Affect (n = 184) (red; TC3, T0→T1; TC1, T1→T2; TC2, T2→T3), and (iii) ToM accuracy (8) after Perspective (n = 115) (green; TC2, T1→T2; TC1, T2→T3). Scatters visualize the relation between average change in significant clusters and individual change in the respective behavioral measure. (B) Findings in (A) superimposed on activation maps from fMRI studies using baseline data from the current sample (8, 47), illustrating overlap with networks involved in attention, socio-affective processing, and ToM. For details on statistical thresholds, see Fig. 1.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/3/10/e1700489/DC1

    Supplementary Results

    fig. S1. Overall training effect.

    fig. S2. Cluster-specific change.

    fig. S3. Site-specific change.

    fig. S4. Module-specific changes compared to RCC.

    fig. S5. Affect versus Perspective from T1 to T3.

    fig. S6. Presence versus Affect (TC3).

    fig. S7. Differential change in each module (TC1 and TC2 only).

    fig. S8. Modulation of change in Affect and Perspective by Presence increase in medial PFC.

    fig. S9. Overlap with task-based functional activations at baseline and module-specific training-related cortical thickness increases.

    table S1. Participant inclusion and reason for missing data across the study duration.

    table S2. Overall change.

    table S3. Overall training effect.

    table S4. Module-specific change compared to RCC.

    table S5. Within-subject change of Affect and Perspective.

    table S6. Behavioral modulation of brain change.

    table S7. Presence versus Affect (TC3).

    table S8. Differential change in each module (TC1 and TC2 only).

    table S9. Modulation of change by mindfulness skills.

    table S10. Overall change controlled for head motion.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Supplementary Results
    • fig. S1. Overall training effect.
    • fig. S2. Cluster-specific change.
    • fig. S3. Site-specific change.
    • fig. S4. Module-specific changes compared to RCC.
    • fig. S5. Affect versus Perspective from T1 to T3.
    • fig. S6. Presence versus Affect (TC3).
    • fig. S7. Differential change in each module (TC1 and TC2 only).
    • fig. S8. Modulation of change in Affect and Perspective by Presence increase in medial PFC.
    • fig. S9. Overlap with task-based functional activations at baseline and module-specific training-related cortical thickness increases.
    • table S1. Participant inclusion and reason for missing data across the study duration.
    • table S2. Overall change.
    • table S3. Overall training effect.
    • table S4. Module-specific change compared to RCC.
    • table S5. Within-subject change of Affect and Perspective.
    • table S6. Behavioral modulation of brain change.
    • table S7. Presence versus Affect (TC3).
    • table S8. Differential change in each module (TC1 and TC2 only).
    • table S9. Modulation of change by mindfulness skills.
    • table S10. Overall change controlled for head motion.

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