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Eur J Neurosci. 1996 Apr;8(4):637-48.

Functional anatomy of visuomotor skill learning in human subjects examined with positron emission tomography.

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Department of Psychology & Research Center in Neurobiology, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Canada.


The present study was designed to examine patterns of regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) associated with the learning of a repeated visuomotor sequence both in the early and late phases of the acquisition process. In addition, changes in blood flow related to the implicit versus explicit aspects of learning such a skill were investigated. Fourteen normal control subjects were scanned while performing the task (i) in both early and advanced learning stages of the visuomotor sequence; (ii) after having acquired explicit knowledge of the sequences; and (iii) in two control conditions (perceptual and random sequence). Subtraction of the random condition from the highly learned condition revealed specific areas of activity in the right ventral striatum and dentate nucleus of the cerebellum. Blood flow changes in the right hemisphere were also seen in the medial posterior parietal and prestriate regions, as well as in the anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, once the subjects had acquired explicit knowledge of the embedded sequence that was presented in the highly learned condition, increased CBF activity was observed only in the mid-ventrolateral frontal area in the right hemisphere. These findings confirm that both the striatum and the cerebellum are involved in the implicit acquisition of a visuomotor skill, especially in the advanced stages of the learning process, and furthermore that the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex contributes preferentially to the declarative aspect of this task.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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