Motor skills, once learned, need to be consolidated over time in order to become resistant to disruption or interference. In some instances, the consolidation phase can also include spontaneous gains in performance even in the absence of further rehearsal on a motor task. Clinical and behavioral evidence suggest that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-receptor activity is required for motor learning acquisition and behavioral synaptic plasticity. However, the involvement of NMDA receptors in motor consolidation, leading to stabilization of the recently formed motor memory, has not yet been assessed in humans. To address this issue, we used post-training administration of amantadine, a low-affinity NMDA-receptor channel blocker. In a double-blind design, 200 mg of amantadine or a matching placebo was given orally to two different groups of 11 healthy young volunteers each. The subjects were tested twice 24 h apart, using a motor adaptation paradigm consisting of an eight-target-pointing task. Comparison of the mean performance levels on this task revealed that subjects in both groups improved their performance levels significantly on Day 2 compared to Day 1, regardless of the treatment administered. Our data indicate that amantadine failed to block motor learning consolidation in subjects that had already learned the motor adaptation task. Thus, although required in some stages (e.g. acquisition) of motor memory processes, the present results suggest that NMDA-receptor activation may not be essential for consolidation of motor adaptation in humans.
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