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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 1213723, 9 pages
Review Article

Neural Plasticity following Abacus Training in Humans: A Review and Future Directions

1Institute of Clinical Anatomy, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China
2Bio-X Laboratory, Department of Physics, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China

Received 3 August 2015; Revised 24 September 2015; Accepted 28 September 2015

Academic Editor: Preston E. Garraghty

Copyright © 2016 Yongxin Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The human brain has an enormous capacity to adapt to a broad variety of environmental demands. Previous studies in the field of abacus training have shown that this training can induce specific changes in the brain. However, the neural mechanism underlying these changes remains elusive. Here, we reviewed the behavioral and imaging findings of comparisons between abacus experts and average control subjects and focused on changes in activation patterns and changes in brain structure. Finally, we noted the limitations and the future directions of this field. We concluded that although current studies have provided us with information about the mechanisms of abacus training, more research on abacus training is needed to understand its neural impact.