Functional stages in the formation of human long-term motor memory.
ABSTRACT Previous research has demonstrated that the primate CNS has the ability to learn and store multiple and conflicting visuo-motor maps. Here we studied the ability of human subjects to learn to make reaching movements while interacting with one of two conflicting mechanical environments as produced by a robotic manipulandum. We demonstrate that two motor maps may be learned and retained, but only if the training sessions in the tasks are separated by an interval of approximately 5 hr. If the interval is shorter, learning of the second map begins with an internal model appropriate for the first task and performance in the second task is significantly impaired. Analysis of the after-effects suggests that with a short temporal distance, learning of the second task leads to an unlearning of the internal model for the first. With the longer temporal distance, learning of the second task starts with an unbiased internal model, and performance approaches that of naives. Furthermore, the memory of the consolidated skill lasts for at least 5 months after training. These results argue for a distinct change in the state of resistance of motor memory (to disruption) within a few hours after acquisition. We suggest that motor practice results in memories that have at least two functional components: soon after completion of practice, one component fades while another is strengthened. A further experiment suggests that the hypothetical first stage is not merely a gateway to long-term memory, but also temporary storage for items of information, whether new or old, for use in the near-term. Our results raise the possibility that there are distinct neuronal mechanisms for representation of the two functional stages of motor memory.
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ABSTRACT: Cortical reorganization within the primary motor cortex (M1) contralateral to a practicing hand has been extensively investigated. The extent to which the ipsilateral M1 participates in these plastic changes is not known. Here, we evaluated the influence of unilateral hand practice on the organization of the M1 ipsilateral and contralateral to the practicing hand in healthy human subjects. Index finger movements elicited by single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) delivered to each M1 were evaluated before and after practice of unilateral voluntary index finger abduction motions. Practice increased the proportion and acceleration of TMS-evoked movements in the trained direction and the amplitude of motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) in the abduction agonist first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle in the practicing hand and decreased the proportion and acceleration of TMS-evoked abduction movements and MEP amplitudes in the abduction agonist FDI in the opposite resting hand. Our findings indicate that unilateral hand practice specifically weakened the representation of the practiced movement in the ipsilateral M1 to an extent proportional to the strengthening effect in the contralateral M1, a result that varied with the practicing hand's position. These results suggest a more prominent involvement of interacting bilateral motor networks in motor memory formation and probably acquisition of unimanual motor skills than previously thought.Cerebral Cortex 07/2008; 18(6):1395-406. DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhm173 · 8.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Fast and accurate visual recognition of single characters is crucial for efficient reading. We explored the possible contribution of writing memory to character recognition processes. We evaluated the ability of adults to discriminate new characters from their mirror images after being taught how to produce the characters either by traditional pen-and-paper writing or with a computer keyboard. After training, we found stronger and longer lasting (several weeks) facilitation in recognizing the orientation of characters that had been written by hand compared to those typed. Functional magnetic resonance imaging recordings indicated that the response mode during learning is associated with distinct pathways during recognition of graphic shapes. Greater activity related to handwriting learning and normal letter identification was observed in several brain regions known to be involved in the execution, imagery, and observation of actions, in particular, the left Broca's area and bilateral inferior parietal lobules. Taken together, these results provide strong arguments in favor of the view that the specific movements memorized when learning how to write participate in the visual recognition of graphic shapes and letters.Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 06/2008; 20(5):802-15. DOI:10.1162/jocn.2008.20504 · 4.69 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to investigate differences in neural plasticity associated with learning a unique motor task in patients with schizophrenia and healthy volunteers. Working with a robotic manipulandum, subjects learned reaching movements in a force field. Visual cues were provided to guide the reaching movements. PET rCBF measures were acquired while participants learned the motor skill over successive runs. The groups did not differ in behavioral performance but did differ in their rCBF activity patterns. Healthy volunteers displayed blood flow increases in primary motor cortex and supplementary motor area with motor learning. The patients with schizophrenia displayed an increase in the primary visual cortex with motor learning. Changes in these regions were positively correlated with changes in each group's motor accuracy, respectively. This is the first study to employ a unique arm-reaching motor learning test to assess neural plasticity during multiple phases of motor learning in patients with schizophrenia. The patients may have an inability to rapidly tune motor cortical neural populations to a preferred direction. The visual system, however, appears to be highly compensated in schizophrenia and the inability to rapidly modulate the motor cortex may be substantially corrected by the schizophrenic group's visuomotor adaptations.Psychiatry Research 06/2008; 163(1):1-12. DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2007.10.006 · 2.68 Impact Factor