Structural differences in basal ganglia of elite running versus martial arts athletes: a diffusion tensor imaging study
- 549 Downloads
The aim of this study was to use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to characterize and compare microscopic differences in white matter integrity in the basal ganglia between elite professional athletes specializing in running and martial arts. Thirty-three young adults with sport-related skills as elite professional runners (n = 11) or elite professional martial artists (n = 11) were recruited and compared with non-athletic and healthy controls (n = 11). All participants underwent health- and skill-related physical fitness assessments. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD), the primary indices derived from DTI, were computed for five regions of interest in the bilateral basal ganglia, including the caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus internal segment (GPi), globus pallidus external segment (GPe), and subthalamic nucleus. Results revealed that both athletic groups demonstrated better physical fitness indices compared with their control counterparts, with the running group exhibiting the highest cardiovascular fitness and the martial arts group exhibiting the highest muscular endurance and flexibility. With respect to the basal ganglia, both athletic groups showed significantly lower FA and marginally higher MD values in the GPi compared with the healthy control group. These findings suggest that professional sport or motor skill training is associated with changes in white matter integrity in specific regions of the basal ganglia, although these positive changes did not appear to depend on the type of sport-related motor skill being practiced.
KeywordsDTI Fitness Globus pallidus Putamen Sport mode
The research was supported, in part, by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan to Yu-Kai Chang (NSC 101-2628-H-179-002 and NSC 102-2420-H-179-001-MY3) and to Erik Chihhung Chang (NSC 100-2628-H-008-008 and NSC 101-2410-H008-035-MY2).
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare related to this manuscript.
- American College of Sports Medicine (2013) ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Davids K, Bennett S, Newell K (2006) Movement system variability. Human Kinetics, Champaign, ILGoogle Scholar
- Deeny SP, Hillman CH, Janelle CM, Hatfield BD (2003) Cortico-cortical communication and superior performance in skilled marksmen: an EEG coherence analysis. J Sport Exerc Psychol 25:188–204Google Scholar
- Douaud G, Poupon C, Cointepas Y et al (2005) Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in Huntington’s disease patients: analyses of fractional anisotropy (FA) maps and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps. ISMRM workshop on methods for quantitative diffusion MRI of Human Brain Lake Louise Canada, pp 49–49Google Scholar
- Ericsson KA (1996) The road to excellence: the acquisition of expert performance in the arts and sciences, sports, and games. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
- Gerfen CR, Bolam JP (2010) The neuroanatomical organization of the basal ganglia. In: Steiner H, Tseng KY (eds) Handbook of basal ganglia structure and function. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Hasan KM, Halphen C, Kamali A, Nelson FM, Wolinsky JS, Narayana PA (2009) Caudate nuclei volume, diffusion tensor metrics, and T(2) relaxation in healthy adults and relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients: implications for understanding gray matter degeneration. J Magn Reson Imaging 29:70–77. doi: 10.1002/jmri.21648 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hasan KM, Walimuni IS, Abid H, Frye RE, Ewing-Cobbs L, Wolinsky JS, Narayana PA (2011) Multimodal quantitative magnetic resonance imaging of thalamic development and aging across the human lifespan: implications to neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. J Neurosci 31:16826–16832. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.4184-11.2011 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schmidt RA, Wrisberg CA (2008) Motor learning and performance: a situation-based learning approach. Human Kinetics, Champaign, ILGoogle Scholar
- Wechsler D, Corporation P (1997) WAIS-III: administration and scoring manual: wechsler adult intelligence scale. Psychological Corporation, New YorkGoogle Scholar