The effect of BDNF val66met polymorphism on visuomotor adaptation

Exp Brain Res. 2012 Nov;223(1):43-50. doi: 10.1007/s00221-012-3239-9. Epub 2012 Sep 1.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in learning, memory, and brain plasticity. Humans with a val66met polymorphism in the BDNF gene have reduced levels of BDNF and alterations in motor learning and short-term cortical plasticity. In the current study, we sought to further explore the role of BDNF in motor learning by testing human subjects on a visuomotor adaptation task. In experiment 1, 21 subjects with the polymorphism (val/met) and 21 matched controls (val/val) were tested during learning, short-term retention (45 min), long-term retention (24 h), and de-adaptation of a 60° visuomotor deviation. We measured both mean error as well as rate of adaptation during each session. There was no difference in mean error between groups; however, val/met subjects had a reduced rate of adaptation during learning as well as during long-term retention, but not short-term retention or de-adaptation. In experiment 2, 12 val/met and 12 val/val subjects were tested on a larger 80° deviation, revealing a more pronounced difference in mean error during adaptation than the 60° deviation. These results suggest that BDNF may play an important role in visuomotor adaptive processes in the human.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor