Upregulation of cortico-cerebellar functional connectivity after motor learning
Mehrkanoon, S and Boonstra, TW and Breakspear, M and Hinder, M and Summers, JJ, Upregulation of cortico-cerebellar functional connectivity after motor learning, NeuroImage, 128 pp. 252-263. ISSN 1053-8119 (2016) [Refereed Article]
Interactions between the cerebellum and primary motor cortex are crucial for the acquisition of new motor skills. Recent neuroimaging studies indicate that learning motor skills is associated with subsequent modulation of resting-state functional connectivity in the cerebellar and cerebral cortices. The neuronal processes underlying the motor-learning-induced plasticity are not well understood. Here, we investigate changes in functional connectivity in source-reconstructed electroencephalography (EEG) following the performance of a single session of a dynamic force task in twenty young adults. Source activity was reconstructed in 112 regions of interest (ROIs) and the functional connectivity between all ROIs was estimated using the imaginary part of coherence. Significant changes in resting-state connectivity were assessed using partial least squares (PLS). We found that subjects adapted their motor performance during the training session and showed improved accuracy but with slower movement times. A number of connections were significantly upregulated after motor training, principally involving connections within the cerebellum and between the cerebellum and motor cortex. Increased connectivity was confined to specific frequency ranges in the mu- and beta-bands. Post hoc analysis of the phase spectra of these cerebellar and cortico-cerebellar connections revealed an increased phase lag between motor cortical and cerebellar activity following motor practice. These findings show a reorganization of intrinsic cortico-cerebellar connectivity related to motor adaptation and demonstrate the potential of EEG connectivity analysis in source space to reveal the neuronal processes that underpin neural plasticity.
neural plasticity, intrinsic connectivity, motor learning, EEG source analysis, cerebellum