Enhanced intersubject similarity in functional connectivity by long-term abacus training

Yi Zhang, Tianyong Xu, Xiao Han, Yanjie Wang, Huafeng Liu, Changsong Zhou*, Feiyan Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The individual difference of intrinsic functional connectivity is increasingly acknowledged to be biologically informative and behaviorally relevant. However, such valuable information is still discounted as a stochastic variation in previous studies of cognitive training. Here, we explored the plasticity of intersubject similarity in functional connectivity (ISFC), induced by long-term abacus-based mental calculation (AMC) training. Using a longitudinal dataset (AMC: n = 40, 5-year training; Control: n = 43), we found robust training effect of enhanced ISFC, after accounting for the factor of development. Notably, the enhancement focused on selective subsets of FCs, or the "critical FCs," which predominantly impacted the default-mode and visual networks. Using a cross-sectional dataset with a larger sample (AMC: n = 93, 1/3/5-year training; Control: n = 110), we observed that the "critical FCs" and its intersubject similarity could predict mental calculation ability and its intersubject similarity, respectively, in the AMC group. However, such predictions cannot be generalized to the control group, suggesting that long-term training may be a prerequisite for establishing such brain-behavior relationships. Jointly, our findings implicated that the enhanced ISFC with profound impact on the default-mode network could be a plastic change that is associated with behavioral gains of training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8633-8644
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

User-Defined Keywords

  • abacus training
  • functional plasticity
  • individual difference
  • long-term cognitive training
  • resting-state fMRI


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