Humans vary greatly in their motor learning abilities, yet little is known about the neural processes that underlie this variability. We identified distinct profiles of human sensorimotor adaptation that emerged across 2 days of learning, linking these profiles to the dynamics of whole-brain functional networks early on the first day when cognitive strategies toward sensorimotor adaptation are believed to be most prominent. During early learning, greater recruitment of a network of higher-order brain regions, involving prefrontal and anterior temporal cortex, was associated with faster learning. At the same time, greater integration of this "cognitive network" with a sensorimotor network was associated with slower learning, consistent with the notion that cognitive strategies toward adaptation operate in parallel with implicit learning processes of the sensorimotor system. On the second day, greater recruitment of a network that included the hippocampus was associated with faster learning, consistent with the notion that declarative memory systems are involved with fast relearning of sensorimotor mappings. Together, these findings provide novel evidence for the role of higher-order brain systems in driving variability in adaptation.
Keywords: cognition; fMRI; learning; modularity; motor learning.
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