Extensive training of elementary finger tapping movements changes the pattern of motor cortex excitability

Exp Brain Res. 2006 Sep;174(2):199-209. doi: 10.1007/s00221-006-0440-8. Epub 2006 Apr 8.


There is evidence of a strong capacity for functional and structural reorganization in the human motor system. However, past research has focused mainly on complex movement sequences over rather short training durations. In this study we investigated changes in corticospinal excitability associated with longer training of elementary, maximum-speed tapping movements. All participating subjects were consistent right-handers and were trained using either the right (experiment 1) or the left thumb (experiment 2). Transcranial magnetic stimulation was applied to obtain motor evoked potentials (MEPs) from the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscle of the right and the left hand before and after training. As a result of training, a significant increase was observed in tapping speed accompanied by increased MEPs, recorded from the trained APB muscle, following contralateral M1 stimulation. In the case of subdominant-hand training we additionally demonstrate increased MEP amplitudes evoked at the right APB (untrained hand) in the first training week. Enhanced corticospinal excitability associated with practice of elementary movements may constitute a necessary precursor for inducing plastic changes within the motor system. The involvement of the ipsilateral left M1 likely reflects the predominant role of the left M1 in the general control (modification) of simple motor parameters in right-handed subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation