Classification learning is a preeminent human ability within the animal kingdom but the key mechanisms of brain networks regulating learning remain mostly elusive. Recent neuroimaging advancements have depicted human brain as a complex graph machinery where brain regions are nodes and coherent activities among them represent the functional connections. While long-term motor memories have been found to alter functional connectivity in the resting human brain, a graph topological investigation of the short-time effects of learning are still not widely investigated. For instance, classification learning is known to orchestrate rapid modulation of diverse memory systems like short-term and visual working memories but how the brain functional connectome accommodates such modulations is unclear. We used publicly available repositories (openfmri.org) selecting three experiments, two focused on short-term classification learning along two consecutive runs where learning was promoted by trial-by-trial feedback errors, while a further experiment was used as supplementary control. We analyzed the functional connectivity extracted from BOLD fMRI signals, and estimated the graph information processing in the cerebral networks. The information processing capability, characterized by complex network statistics, significantly improved over runs, together with the subject classification accuracy. Instead, null-learning experiments, where feedbacks came with poor consistency, did not provoke any significant change in the functional connectivity over runs. We propose that learning induces fast modifications in the overall brain network dynamics, definitely ameliorating the short-term potential of the brain to process and integrate information, a dynamic consistently orchestrated by modulations of the functional connections among specific brain regions.
- complex network analysis
- functional connectivity
- functional magnetic resonance imaging
- information processing
- short-term memory