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Changes in Excitability of the Motor Cortex Associated with Internal Model Formation during Intrinsic Visuomotor Learning in the Upper Arm

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DOI: 10.4236/jbbs.2011.13019    5,176 Downloads   9,351 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Previous studies have shown that the primary motor cortex (M1) may drive part of the feed forward control of well learnt simple movements by specifying patterns of muscle activation. This study explored the role of the M1 in the feed forward control of newly formed movement patterns after motor adaptation. Ten healthy right-handed subjects performed planar, centre-out arm reaching movement trials with a robotic manipulandum in three phases: a null force field (baseline), a velocity-dependent force field (adaptation; 25 Nsm-1) and again in a null force field (deadaptation). Reaching error and voluntary EMG were recorded from the biceps and triceps before, during and after motor adaptation. We also explored the effects of motor adaptation on evoked responses to single and paired pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation from the same muscles at different delays after a visual go command, but before the onset of voluntary muscle activity. After the force field was removed, subjects produced reaching overshoot characteristic of adaptive internal model formation. Following motor adaptation, there was a significant increase in corticospinal excitability, reduction in short interval intracortical inhibition and increase in short interval intracortical facilitation that was associated with a sustained increase in voluntary muscle activity in the biceps. The adaptation-driven increase in reaching overshoot coupled with the increase in voluntary activity, corticospinal and intracortical excitability in the biceps suggests that the M1 may specify some of the feed forward components of newly learnt internal models through the control of specific muscles.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

T. Hunter, P. Sacco and D. Turner, "Changes in Excitability of the Motor Cortex Associated with Internal Model Formation during Intrinsic Visuomotor Learning in the Upper Arm," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 1 No. 3, 2011, pp. 140-152. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2011.13019.

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