Short-term adaptation to a simple motor task: a physiological process preserved in multiple sclerosis

Neuroimage. 2009 Apr 1;45(2):500-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.12.006. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Short-term adaptation indicates the attenuation of the functional MRI (fMRI) response during repeated task execution. It is considered to be a physiological process, but it is unknown whether short-term adaptation changes significantly in patients with brain disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). In order to investigate short-term adaptation during a repeated right-hand tapping task in both controls and in patients with MS, we analyzed the fMRI data collected in a large cohort of controls and MS patients who were recruited into a multi-centre European fMRI study. Four fMRI runs were acquired for each of the 55 controls and 56 MS patients at baseline and 33 controls and 26 MS patients at 1-year follow-up. The externally cued (1 Hz) right hand tapping movement was limited to 3 cm amplitude by using at all sites (7 at baseline and 6 at follow-up) identically manufactured wooden frames. No significant differences in cerebral activation were found between sites. Furthermore, our results showed linear response adaptation (i.e. reduced activation) from run 1 to run 4 (over a 25 minute period) in the primary motor area (contralateral more than ipsilateral), in the supplementary motor area and in the primary sensory cortex, sensory-motor cortex and cerebellum, bilaterally. This linear activation decay was the same in both control and patient groups, did not change between baseline and 1-year follow-up and was not influenced by the modest disease progression observed over 1 year. These findings confirm that the short-term adaptation to a simple motor task is a physiological process which is preserved in MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills*
  • Movement*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Young Adult