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The resting human brain and motor learning.

By Neil B. Albert, Edwin M. Robertson and R. Chris Miall

Abstract

Functionally related brain networks are engaged even in the absence of an overt behavior. The role of this resting state activity, evident as low-frequency fluctuations of BOLD (see [1] for review, [2-4]) or electrical [5, 6] signals, is unclear. Two major proposals are that resting state activity supports introspective thought or supports responses to future events [7]. An alternative perspective is that the resting brain actively and selectively processes previous experiences [8]. Here we show that motor learning can modulate subsequent activity within resting networks. BOLD signal was recorded during rest periods before and after an 11 min visuomotor training session. Motor learning but not motor performance modulated a fronto-parietal resting state network (RSN). Along with the fronto-parietal network, a cerebellar network not previously reported as an RSN was also specifically altered by learning. Both of these networks are engaged during learning of similar visuomotor tasks [9-22]. Thus, we provide the first description of the modulation of specific RSNs by prior learning--but not by prior performance--revealing a novel connection between the neuroplastic mechanisms of learning and resting state activity. Our approach may provide a powerful tool for exploration of the systems involved in memory consolidation

Topics: BF Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.bham.ac.uk:241

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