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Use-dependent plasticity in human primary motor hand area: Synergistic interplay between training and immobilisation

By Estelle Raffin, Hartwig R Siebner

Posted 10 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/217661 (published DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhy226)

Training and immobilization are powerful drivers of use-dependent plasticity in human primary motor hand area (M1HAND). Here we used transcranial magnetic stimulation to clarify how training and immobilisation of a single finger interact within M1HAND. Healthy volunteers trained to track a moving target with a finger for one week. The tracking skill acquired with the trained finger was transferred to a non-trained finger of the same hand. The cortical representations of the trained and non-trained finger muscle converged in proportion with skill transfer. Finger immobilisation alone attenuated the corticomotor representation and preexisting tracking skill of the immobilized finger. The detrimental effects of finger immobilization were blocked by concurrent training of the non-immobilized finger. Conversely, immobilization of the non-trained fingers accelerated learning during the first two days of training. The results provide novel insight into usedependent cortical plasticity, revealing synergistic rather than competitive interaction patterns within M1HAND.

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