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Curr Biol. 2004 Feb 3;14(3):252-6.

Consolidation of dynamic motor learning is not disrupted by rTMS of primary motor cortex.

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  • 1Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


Motor skills, once learned, are often retained over a long period of time. However, such learning first undergoes a period of consolidation after practice. During this time, the motor memory is susceptible to being disrupted by the performance of another motor-learning task. Recently, it was shown that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the primary motor cortex could disrupt the retention of a newly learned ballistic task in which subjects had to oppose their index finger and thumb as rapidly as possible. Here we investigate whether the motor cortex is similarly involved during the consolidation that follows learning novel dynamics. We applied rTMS to primary motor cortex shortly after subjects had either learned to compensate for a dynamic force field applied to their index finger or learned a ballistic finger abduction task. rTMS severely degraded the retention of the learning for the ballistic task but had no effect on retention of the dynamic force-field learning. This suggests that, unlike learning of simple ballistic skills, learning of dynamics may be stored in a more distributed manner, possibly outside the primary motor cortex.

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