(HealthDay News) – People taking an intensive course to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which requires strong reasoning skills, have changes in the microstructure of brain white matter.

To investigate whether reasoning training affects white matter microstructure, Allyson P. Mackey, from the University of California at Berkeley, and colleagues performed diffusion tensor imaging on 23 individuals before and after 100 hours of training over three months to prepare for the LSAT and 22 matched individuals who were planning to take the test in the future.

The researchers found that only the group who underwent LSAT training showed reduced radial diffusivity in the white matter connecting the frontal lobes of the brain as well as reduced mean diffusivity in the white matter within the frontal and parietal lobes. While all trainees improved their LSAT scores, those whose scores improved the most had greater decreases in the mean diffusivity in the right internal capsule.

“In summary, reasoning training altered multiple measures of white matter structure in young adults,” Mackey and colleagues conclude. “While the cellular underpinnings are unknown, these results provide evidence of experience-dependent white matter changes that may not be limited to myelination.”

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