Description: We compared resting-state functional connectivity in a sample of adult male collegiate distance runners (n=11; age=21.3±2.5) and a group of healthy age-matched non-athlete male controls (n=11; age=20.6±1.1), to test the hypothesis that expertise in sustained aerobic motor behaviors affects resting state functional connectivity in young adults. We examined connectivity in three resting-state networks that link such executive functions with motor control: the Default Mode Network (DMN), the Fronto-Parietal Network (FPN), and the Motor Network (MN). We found two key patterns of significant between-group differences in connectivity that are consistent with the hypothesized cognitive demands of elite endurance running. First, enhanced connectivity between the FPN and brain regions often associated with working memory (left and right frontal cortex), suggest endurance running may stress executive functions in ways that increase connectivity in associated networks. Second, we found significant anti-correlations between the DMN and regions associated with motor control (right precentral area), somatosensory needs (right postcentral region), and visual association (occipital cortex).
Related article: http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00610
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