Front Hum Neurosci 2013 27;7:919. Epub 2013 Dec 27.
Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Health Sciences, University of Minho Braga, Portugal ; ICVS/3B's - PT Government Associate Laboratory Braga/Guimarães, Portugal ; Clinical Academic Center Braga, Portugal.
Chronic stress has been widely reported to have deleterious impact in multiple biological systems. Specifically, structural and functional remodeling of several brain regions following prolonged stress exposure have been described; importantly, some of these changes are eventually reversible. Recently, we showed the impact of stress on resting state networks (RSNs), but nothing is known about the plasticity of RSNs after recovery from stress. Herein, we examined the "plasticity" of RSNs, both at functional and structural levels, by comparing the same individuals before and after recovery from the exposure to chronic stress; results were also contrasted with a control group. Here we show that the stressed individuals after recovery displayed a decreased resting functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN), ventral attention network (VAN), and sensorimotor network (SMN) when compared to themselves immediately after stress; however, this functional plastic recovery was only partial as when compared with the control group, as there were still areas of increased connectivity in dorsal attention network (DAN), SMN and primary visual network (VN) in participants recovered from stress. Data also shows that participants after recovery from stress displayed increased deactivations in DMN, SMN, and auditory network (AN), to levels similar to those of controls, showing a normalization of the deactivation pattern in RSNs after recovery from stress. In contrast, structural changes (volumetry) of the brain areas involving these networks are absent after the recovery period. These results reveal plastic phenomena in specific RSNs and a functional remodeling of the activation-deactivation pattern following recovery from chronic-stress, which is not accompanied by significant structural plasticity.