Motor learning in healthy humans is associated to gray matter changes: A tensor-based morphometry study

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Abstract

We used tensor-based morphometry (TBM) to: 1) map gray matter (GM) volume changes associated with motor learning in young healthy individuals; 2) evaluate if GM changes persist three months after cessation of motor training; and 3) assess whether the use of different schemes of motor training during the learning phase could lead to volume modifications of specific GM structures. From 31 healthy subjects, motor functional assessment and brain 3D T1-weighted sequence were obtained: before motor training (time 0), at the end of training (two weeks) (time 2), and three months later (time 3). Fifteen subjects (group A) were trained with goal-directed motor sequences, and 16 (group B) with non purposeful motor actions of the right hand. At time 1 vs. time 0, the whole sample of subjects had GM volume increase in regions of the temporooccipital lobes, inferior parietal lobule (IPL) and middle frontal gyrus, while at time 2 vs. time 1, an increased GM volume in the middle temporal gyrus was seen. At time 1 vs. time 0, compared to group B, group A had a GM volume increase of the hippocampi, while the opposite comparison showed greater GM volume increase in the IPL and insula in group B vs. group A. Motor learning results in structural GM changes of different brain areas which are part of specific neuronal networks and tend to persist after training is stopped. The scheme applied during the learning phase influences the pattern of such structural changes. © 2010 Filippi et al.

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Filippi, M., Ceccarelli, A., Pagani, E., Gatti, R., Rossi, A., Stefanelli, L., … Rocca, M. A. (2010). Motor learning in healthy humans is associated to gray matter changes: A tensor-based morphometry study. PLoS ONE, 5(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0010198

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