The influence of motor expertise on the brain activity of motor task performance: A meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2015 Jun;15(2):381-94. doi: 10.3758/s13415-014-0329-0.


Previous research has investigated the influence of long-term motor training on the brain activity of motor processes, but the findings are inconsistent. To clarify how acquiring motor expertise induces cortical reorganization during motor task performance, the current study conducted a quantitative meta-analysis on 26 functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that investigate motor task performance in people with long-term motor training experience (e.g., athletes, musicians, and dancers) and control participants. Meta-analysis of the brain activation in motor experts and novices showed similar effects in the bilateral frontal and parietal regions. The meta-analysis on the contrast between motor experts and novices indicated that experts showed stronger effects in the left inferior parietal lobule (BA 40) than did novices in motor execution and prediction tasks. In motor observation tasks, experts showed stronger effects in the left inferior frontal gyrus (BA 9) and left precentral gyrus (BA 6) than novices. On the contrary, novices had stronger effects in the right motor areas and basal ganglia as compared with motor experts. These results indicate that motor experts have effect increases in brain areas involved in action planning and action comprehension, and suggest that intensive motor training might elaborate the motor representation related to the task performance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • PubMed / statistics & numerical data