Motor learning after unilateral brain damage

Neuropsychologia. 1999 Jul;37(8):975-87. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(98)00145-6.


Forty adults, post-stroke from anterior circulation unilateral cerebrovascular accident (approximately 2 years post onset) and 40 age-matched controls (M = 57 years) practiced a rapid, spatially and temporally constrained programmed action under one of two augmented feedback practice conditions. Participants in the stroke group used the upper limb ipsilateral to the lesion. After an extended practice period (198 trials), acquisition, retention, and reacquisition performance was assessed for accuracy and consistency and compared over trials, between groups and feedback conditions. Both stroke and control groups demonstrated significant improvement in accuracy and consistency over practice with relative persistence of these changes during retention. There were no differences between groups (stroke vs control) in performance patterns across trials for acquisition, retention, or reacquisition phases. In addition, there were no differential effects of the two augmented feedback conditions on performance and no interactions of feedback condition with group. However, independent of feedback condition, the stroke group performed with more error than did the control group during all experimental phases (i.e., acquisition, retention, reacquisition). These results suggest that unilateral stroke-related damage in the sensorimotor areas primarily effects the processes underlying the control and execution of motor skills but not the learning of those skills. Implications of these findings for physical rehabilitation are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / psychology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / pathology
  • Motor Skills*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Time Factors