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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Excitatory repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to left dorsal premotor cortex enhances motor consolidation of new skills

Lara A Boyd123* and Meghan A Linsdell3

Author affiliations

1 Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

2 Brain Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

3 Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:72  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-72

Published: 7 July 2009

Abstract

Background

Following practice of skilled movements, changes continue to take place in the brain that both strengthen and modify memory for motor learning. These changes represent motor memory consolidation a process whereby new memories are transformed from a fragile to a more permanent, robust and stable state. In the present study, the neural correlates of motor memory consolidation were probed using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd). Participants engaged in four days of continuous tracking practice that immediately followed either excitatory 5 HZ, inhibitory 1 HZ or control, sham rTMS. A delayed retention test assessed motor learning of repeated and random sequences of continuous movement; no rTMS was applied at retention.

Results

We discovered that 5 HZ excitatory rTMS to PMd stimulated motor memory consolidation as evidenced by off-line learning, whereas only memory stabilization was noted following 1 Hz inhibitory or sham stimulation.

Conclusion

Our data support the hypothesis that PMd is important for continuous motor learning, specifically via off-line consolidation of learned motor behaviors.