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Neuroreport. 2013 Sep 11;24(13):693-7. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283630158.

Hemispheric asymmetry of ipsilateral motor cortex activation in motor skill learning.

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  • 1Physical Therapy Major, School of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Health and Social Services, Kanagawa University of Human Services, Kanagawa, Japan.


In this study, we investigated how ipsilateral motor cortex (M1) activation during unimanual hand movements and hemispheric asymmetry changed after motor skill learning. Eleven right-handed participants preformed a two-ball-rotation motor task with the right and the left hand, separately, in all experimental sessions. Before and after exercise sessions, the degree of ipsilateral M1 activation during brief execution of the motor task was measured as changes in the size of motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) of the thenar and the first dorsal interosseous muscle of the nontask hand using transcranial magnetic stimulation. Before exercise, MEPs of the nontask hand were significantly facilitated on both sides during the motor task. After exercise, facilitation of MEPs of the nontask hand during the motor task was significantly reduced for the right hand (thenar: P=0.014, first dorsal interosseous: P=0.022) but not for the left hand. We conclude that ipsilateral M1 activation, associated with a complex motor task, is first symmetrical in both hemispheres. However, on exercise, ipsilateral activation is reduced only in left M1, indicating a stronger learning-dependent modification of motor networks within the left hemisphere.

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