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J Mot Behav. 2011;43(6):499-507. doi: 10.1080/00222895.2011.632657.

Transfer of motor learning engages specific neural substrates during motor memory consolidation dependent on the practice structure.

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Motor Behavior and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


The authors investigated how brain activity during motor-memory consolidation contributes to transfer of learning to novel versions of a motor skill following distinct practice structures. They used 1 Hz repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) immediately after constant or variable practice of an arm movement skill to interfere with primary motor cortex (M1) or dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). The effect of interference was assessed through skill performance on two transfer targets: one within and one outside the range of practiced movement parameters for the variable practice group. For the control (no rTMS) group, variable practice benefited delayed transfer performance more than constant practice. The rTMS effect on delayed transfer performance differed for the two transfer targets. For the within-range target, rTMS interference had no significant affect on the delayed transfer after either practice structure. However, for the outside-range target, rTMS interference to DLPFC but not M1 attenuated delayed transfer benefit following variable practice. Additionally, for the outside-range target, rTMS interference to M1 but not DLPFC attenuated delayed transfer following constant practice. This suggests that variable practice may promote reliance on DLPFC for memory consolidation associated with outside-range transfer of learning, whereas constant practice may promote reliance on M1 for consolidation and long-term transfer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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