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Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Dec;122(12):2462-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2011.05.011. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Promoting use-dependent plasticity with externally-paced training.

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Movement Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Sport and Exercise Science, The University of Auckland, New Zealand.



To evaluate use-dependent plasticity (UDP) before and after training under metronome-paced and self-paced conditions.


Twelve healthy adults were recruited to this cross-over, pseudo-randomized, repeated measures study. Participants performed wrist extension training that was either self-paced, or externally-paced to an auditory metronome at their preferred movement frequency or at a more demanding frequency. Motor evoked potentials from transcranial magnetic stimulation of left primary motor cortex were recorded in right extensor carpi radialis (ECR) and flexor carpi radialis (FCR) to assess corticomotor excitability. The direction and velocity of TMS-evoked wrist movement (stimulus-evoked velocity, SEV) were measured before and after training to evaluate UDP.


The most persistent UDP occurred when training was metronome-paced at the participant's preferred movement frequency. This training protocol produced spatially selective modulation of resting ECR and FCR corticomotor excitability and directional tuning of TMS-evoked wrist movement toward the trained direction. Metronome-paced training at a more demanding frequency resulted in nonspecific facilitation of resting corticomotor excitability, and did not alter TMS-evoked wrist movement.


These novel findings indicate that externally-paced training at the individual's preferred frequency facilitates UDP.


UDP underpins motor recovery after stroke. Externally-paced training may be a useful adjunct to movement rehabilitation therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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