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Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 8;6:31084. doi: 10.1038/srep31084.

Neural changes in the primate brain correlated with the evolution of complex motor skills.

Author information

1
Advanced Research Centers, Keio University, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.
2
Laboratory for Symbolic Cognitive Development, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.
3
Department of Physiology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.
4
Central Institute for Experimental Animals, 3-25-12 Tonomachi, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 210-0821, Japan.
5
Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, UCL Institute of Neurology, London WC1N 3BG, UK.
6
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London WC1N3BG, UK.
7
Laboratory for Marmoset Neural Architecture, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.

Abstract

Complex motor skills of eventual benefit can be learned after considerable trial and error. What do structural brain changes that accompany such effortful long-term learning tell us about the mechanisms for developing innovative behavior? Using MRI, we monitored brain structure before, during and after four marmosets learnt to use a rake, over a long period of 10-13 months. Throughout learning, improvements in dexterity and visuo-motor co-ordination correlated with increased volume in the lateral extrastriate cortex. During late learning, when the most complex behavior was maintained by sustained motivation to acquire the skill, the volume of the nucleus accumbens increased. These findings reflect the motivational state required to learn, and show accelerated function in higher visual cortex that is consistent with neurocognitive divergence across a spectrum of primate species.

PMID:
27498966
PMCID:
PMC4976342
DOI:
10.1038/srep31084
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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