Several investigations suggest that actual and mental actions trigger similar neural substrates. Motor learning via physical practice results in long-term potentiation (LTP)-like plasticity processes, namely potentiation of M1 and a temporary occlusion of additional LTP-like plasticity. However, whether this neuroplasticity process contributes to improve motor performance through mental practice remains to be determined. Here, we tested skill learning-dependent changes in primary motor cortex (M1) excitability and plasticity by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in subjects trained to physically execute or mentally perform a sequence of finger opposition movements. Before and after physical practice and motor-imagery practice, M1 excitability was evaluated by measuring the input-output (IO) curve of motor evoked potentials. M1 LTP and longterm depression (LTD)-like plasticity was assessed with paired-associative stimulation (PAS) of the median nerve and motor cortex using an interstimulus interval of 25 ms (PAS25) or 10 ms (PAS10), respectively. We found that even if after both practice sessions subjects significantly improved their movement speed, M1 excitability and plasticity were differentially influenced by the two practice sessions. First, we observed an increase in the slope of IO curve after physical but not after MI practice. Second, there was a reversal of the PAS25 effect from LTP-like plasticity to LTD-like plasticity following physical and MI practice. Third, LTD-like plasticity (PAS10 protocol) increased after physical practice, whilst it was occluded after MI practice. In conclusion, we demonstrated that MI practice lead to the development of neuroplasticity, as it affected the PAS25- and PAS10- induced plasticity in M1. These results, expanding the current knowledge on how MI training shapes M1 plasticity, might have a potential impact in rehabilitation.
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|Titolo:||Motor cortical plasticity induced by motor learning through mental practice|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2015|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01.01 - Articolo su rivista|