Continuous motor sequence learning: cortical efficiency gains accompanied by striatal functional reorganization.

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Abstract

The acquisition and generation of action sequences constitute essential elements of purposeful human behavior. However, there is still considerable debate on how experience-driven changes related to skill learning are expressed at the neural systems level. The current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study focused on changes in the neural representation of continuous movement sequences as learning evolved. Behavioral and neural manifestations of nonvisual motor practice were studied both within the time frame of a single scanning session, as well as after several days of extended practice. Based on detailed behavioral recordings which enabled the continuous characterization of the ongoing learning process at the single subject level, sequence-specific decreases in activation throughout a learning-related network of cortical areas were identified. Furthermore, the spatial layout of this cortical network remained largely unchanged after extensive practice, although further decreases in activation levels could be observed as learning progressed. In contrast, the posterior part of the left putamen showed increased activation levels when an extensively trained sequence needed to be recalled. Overall, these findings imply that continuous motor sequence learning is mainly associated with more efficient processing in a network of consistently recruited cortical areas, together with co-occurring activation pattern changes at the subcortical level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-276
Number of pages14
JournalNeuroimage
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010

Keywords

  • ATTENTION
  • BASAL GANGLIA
  • BRAIN STRUCTURES
  • Extended learning
  • FMRI
  • Functional reorganization
  • INTRAPARIETAL CORTEX
  • LONG-TERM PRACTICE
  • MOVEMENT
  • Nonvisual
  • POSTERIOR PARIETAL CORTEX
  • PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • Skill acquisition
  • VISUOMOTOR CONTROL
  • fMRI

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