Results from our earlier brain imaging studies regarding motor learning have shown different areas activated during naive and practiced performance. When right handed participants moved a pen either with the dominant or non-dominant hand continuously through a cut-out maze as quickly and accurately as possible, practice resulted in decreased brain activity in right premotor and parietal areas as well as left cerebellum, while increased activity was found in the supplementary motor area (SMA). These lateralized practiced-related changes in brain activation suggest effector-independent abstract coding of information. To test this hypothesis more extensively, intermanual transfer of learning was examined in 24 male and female participants (12 right- and 12 left-handed) using the same maze-learning task. It was hypothesized that if an abstract representation of the movement is learned and stored, intermanual transfer effects should be more pronounced when participants transferred to a same maze as opposed to a mirror image of the maze. Errors and velocity were measured during the following conditions: initial naive performance (Naive); after practice on the maze (Prac); during intermanual transfer to the same maze (Transfer Identical); and to the mirror maze (Transfer Mirror). Transfer direction was tested from the dominant to non-dominant hand and vice versa. No significant differences were found between right- and left-handed participants, males and females, and transfer directions. However, intermanual transfer of learning was significantly greater to the identical maze as opposed to the mirror maze. These results showed that learning was indeed taking place at an abstract effector independent level.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2006|