Special Issue "Motor Control and Brain Plasticity"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Bernadette Murphy
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, ON, L1H 7K4, Canada
Interests: sensorimotor integration; neural adaptation and learning; neurophysiology of musculoskeletal treatments; chronic pain processing; neural effects of exercise
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Brain plasticity is critical for motor control and learning. Adaptive or beneficial plasticity leads to improved motor control and performance. In contrast, maladaptive plasticity, may actually lead to impaired motor control and decreased motor performance.

Intrinsic factors, such as cortical dominance or genetics may affect the inherent capacity for plasticity during acquisition of new motor skills. Extrinsic factors such as altered sensory input (for example due to pain, deafferentation and dys-afferentation) has the capacity to impact brain plasticity, in either adaptive ways that lead to enhanced motor control and learning, or maladaptive ways that impair motor control and task performance. In order to understand how any a given factor impacts brain plasticity and motor control, it is important to include experimental measures of brain plasticity (e.g., electroencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and functional magnetic resonance imaging), as well as performance measures of motor control in study design. A better understanding of brain plasticity and motor control can help to guide rehabilitation strategies, as well as helping prevent situations, which lead to maladaptive brain plasticity.

This Special Issue intends to collect articles that explore factors that impact the capacity for brain plasticity, both adaptive, and maladaptive. These factors may be intrinsic factors, or extrinsic. Both experiemental studies, as well as clinical studies, are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Bernadette Murphy
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • brain
  • neuroplasticity
  • motor control
  • sensorimotor integration
  • laterality

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Experimental Hand Pain on Training-Induced Changes in Motor Performance and Corticospinal Excitability
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7020015 - 04 Feb 2017
Cited by 5
Abstract
Pain influences plasticity within the sensorimotor system and the aim of this study was to assess the effect of pain on changes in motor performance and corticospinal excitability during training for a novel motor task. A total of 30 subjects were allocated to [...] Read more.
Pain influences plasticity within the sensorimotor system and the aim of this study was to assess the effect of pain on changes in motor performance and corticospinal excitability during training for a novel motor task. A total of 30 subjects were allocated to one of two groups (Pain, NoPain) and performed ten training blocks of a visually-guided isometric pinch task. Each block consisted of 15 force sequences, and subjects modulated the force applied to a transducer in order to reach one of five target forces. Pain was induced by applying capsaicin cream to the thumb. Motor performance was assessed by a skill index that measured shifts in the speed–accuracy trade-off function. Neurophysiological measures were taken from the first dorsal interosseous using transcranial magnetic stimulation. Overall, the Pain group performed better throughout the training (p = 0.03), but both groups showed similar improvements across training blocks (p < 0.001), and there was no significant interaction. Corticospinal excitability in the NoPain group increased halfway through the training, but this was not observed in the Pain group (Time × Group interaction; p = 0.01). These results suggest that, even when pain does not negatively impact on the acquisition of a novel motor task, it can affect training-related changes in corticospinal excitability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Spinal Manipulation on Cortical Drive to Upper and Lower Limb Muscles
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7010002 - 23 Dec 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
This study investigates whether spinal manipulation leads to changes in motor control by measuring the recruitment pattern of motor units in both an upper and lower limb muscle and to see whether such changes may at least in part occur at the cortical [...] Read more.
This study investigates whether spinal manipulation leads to changes in motor control by measuring the recruitment pattern of motor units in both an upper and lower limb muscle and to see whether such changes may at least in part occur at the cortical level by recording movement related cortical potential (MRCP) amplitudes. In experiment one, transcranial magnetic stimulation input–output (TMS I/O) curves for an upper limb muscle (abductor pollicus brevis; APB) were recorded, along with F waves before and after either spinal manipulation or a control intervention for the same subjects on two different days. During two separate days, lower limb TMS I/O curves and MRCPs were recorded from tibialis anterior muscle (TA) pre and post spinal manipulation. Dependent measures were compared with repeated measures analysis of variance, with p set at 0.05. Spinal manipulation resulted in a 54.5% ± 93.1% increase in maximum motor evoked potential (MEPmax) for APB and a 44.6% ± 69.6% increase in MEPmax for TA. For the MRCP data following spinal manipulation there were significant difference for amplitude of early bereitschafts-potential (EBP), late bereitschafts potential (LBP) and also for peak negativity (PN). The results of this study show that spinal manipulation leads to changes in cortical excitability, as measured by significantly larger MEPmax for TMS induced input–output curves for both an upper and lower limb muscle, and with larger amplitudes of MRCP component post manipulation. No changes in spinal measures (i.e., F wave amplitudes or persistence) were observed, and no changes were shown following the control condition. These results are consistent with previous findings that have suggested increases in strength following spinal manipulation were due to descending cortical drive and could not be explained by changes at the level of the spinal cord. Spinal manipulation may therefore be indicated for the patients who have lost tonus of their muscle and/or are recovering from muscle degrading dysfunctions such as stroke or orthopaedic operations and/or may also be of interest to sports performers. These findings should be followed up in the relevant populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Teaching Signals for Motor Control in the Cerebellum during Real-World Robot Application
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(4), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6040062 - 20 Dec 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Motor learning in the cerebellum is believed to entail plastic changes at synapses between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells, induced by the teaching signal conveyed in the climbing fiber (CF) input. Despite the abundant research on the cerebellum, the nature of this signal [...] Read more.
Motor learning in the cerebellum is believed to entail plastic changes at synapses between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells, induced by the teaching signal conveyed in the climbing fiber (CF) input. Despite the abundant research on the cerebellum, the nature of this signal is still a matter of debate. Two types of movement error information have been proposed to be plausible teaching signals: sensory error (SE) and motor command error (ME); however, their plausibility has not been tested in the real world. Here, we conducted a comparison of different types of CF teaching signals in real-world engineering applications by using a realistic neuronal network model of the cerebellum. We employed a direct current motor (simple task) and a two-wheeled balancing robot (difficult task). We demonstrate that SE, ME or a linear combination of the two is sufficient to yield comparable performance in a simple task. When the task is more difficult, although SE slightly outperformed ME, these types of error information are all able to adequately control the robot. We categorize granular cells according to their inputs and the error signal revealing that different granule cells are preferably engaged for SE, ME or their combination. Thus, unlike previous theoretical and simulation studies that support either SE or ME, it is demonstrated for the first time in a real-world engineering application that both SE and ME are adequate as the CF teaching signal in a realistic computational cerebellar model, even when the control task is as difficult as stabilizing a two-wheeled balancing robot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Body-Machine Interfaces after Spinal Cord Injury: Rehabilitation and Brain Plasticity
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6040061 - 19 Dec 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to identify rehabilitative effects and changes in white matter microstructure in people with high-level spinal cord injury following bilateral upper-extremity motor skill training. Five subjects with high-level (C5–C6) spinal cord injury (SCI) performed five visuo-spatial motor training [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to identify rehabilitative effects and changes in white matter microstructure in people with high-level spinal cord injury following bilateral upper-extremity motor skill training. Five subjects with high-level (C5–C6) spinal cord injury (SCI) performed five visuo-spatial motor training tasks over 12 sessions (2–3 sessions per week). Subjects controlled a two-dimensional cursor with bilateral simultaneous movements of the shoulders using a non-invasive inertial measurement unit-based body-machine interface. Subjects’ upper-body ability was evaluated before the start, in the middle and a day after the completion of training. MR imaging data were acquired before the start and within two days of the completion of training. Subjects learned to use upper-body movements that survived the injury to control the body-machine interface and improved their performance with practice. Motor training increased Manual Muscle Test scores and the isometric force of subjects’ shoulders and upper arms. Moreover, motor training increased fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the cingulum of the left hemisphere by 6.02% on average, indicating localized white matter microstructure changes induced by activity-dependent modulation of axon diameter, myelin thickness or axon number. This body-machine interface may serve as a platform to develop a new generation of assistive-rehabilitative devices that promote the use of, and that re-strengthen, the motor and sensory functions that survived the injury. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Phase- and Workload-Dependent Changes in Corticospinal Excitability to the Biceps and Triceps Brachii during Arm Cycling
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6040060 - 15 Dec 2016
Cited by 12
Abstract
This is the first study to examine corticospinal excitability (CSE) to antagonistic muscle groups during arm cycling. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex and transmastoid electrical stimulation (TMES) of the corticospinal tract were used to assess changes in supraspinal and spinal [...] Read more.
This is the first study to examine corticospinal excitability (CSE) to antagonistic muscle groups during arm cycling. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex and transmastoid electrical stimulation (TMES) of the corticospinal tract were used to assess changes in supraspinal and spinal excitability, respectively. TMS induced motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and TMES induced cervicomedullary evoked potentials (CMEPs) were recorded from the biceps and triceps brachii at two positions, mid-elbow flexion and extension, while cycling at 5% and 15% of peak power output. While phase-dependent modulation of MEP and CMEP amplitudes occurred in the biceps brachii, there was no difference between flexion and extension for MEP amplitudes in the triceps brachii and CMEP amplitudes were higher during flexion than extension. Furthermore, MEP amplitudes in both biceps and triceps brachii increased with increased workload. CMEP amplitudes increased with higher workloads in the triceps brachii, but not biceps brachii, though the pattern of change in CMEPs was similar to MEPs. Differences between changes in CSE between the biceps and triceps brachii suggest that these antagonistic muscles may be under different neural control during arm cycling. Putative mechanisms are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Cerebellar Intermittent Theta-Burst Stimulation and Motor Control Training in Individuals with Cervical Dystonia
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6040056 - 23 Nov 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Background: There is emerging evidence that cervical dystonia is a neural network disorder with the cerebellum as a key node. The cerebellum may provide a target for neuromodulation as a therapeutic intervention in cervical dystonia. Objective: This study aimed to assess effects of [...] Read more.
Background: There is emerging evidence that cervical dystonia is a neural network disorder with the cerebellum as a key node. The cerebellum may provide a target for neuromodulation as a therapeutic intervention in cervical dystonia. Objective: This study aimed to assess effects of intermittent theta-burst stimulation of the cerebellum on dystonia symptoms, quality of life, hand motor dexterity and cortical neurophysiology using transcranial magnetic stimulation. Methods: Sixteen participants with cervical dystonia were randomised into real or sham stimulation groups. Cerebellar neuromodulation was combined with motor training for the neck and an implicit learning task. The intervention was delivered over 10 working days. Outcome measures included dystonia severity and pain, quality of life, hand dexterity, and motor-evoked potentials and cortical silent periods recorded from upper trapezius muscles. Assessments were taken at baseline and after 5 and 10 days, with quality of life also measured 4 and 12 weeks later. Results: Intermittent theta-burst stimulation improved dystonia severity (Day 5, −5.44 points; p = 0.012; Day 10, −4.6 points; p = 0.025), however, effect sizes were small. Quality of life also improved (Day 5, −10.6 points, p = 0.012; Day 10, −8.6 points, p = 0.036; Week 4, −12.5 points, p = 0.036; Week 12, −12.4 points, p = 0.025), with medium or large effect sizes. There was a reduction in time to complete the pegboard task pre to post intervention (both p < 0.008). Cortical neurophysiology was unchanged by cerebellar neuromodulation. Conclusion: Intermittent theta-burst stimulation of the cerebellum may improve cervical dystonia symptoms, upper limb motor control and quality of life. The mechanism likely involves promoting neuroplasticity in the cerebellum although the neurophysiology remains to be elucidated. Cerebellar neuromodulation may have potential as a novel treatment intervention for cervical dystonia, although larger confirmatory studies are required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Experimental Cutaneous Hand Pain on Corticospinal Excitability and Short Afferent Inhibition
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(4), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6040045 - 29 Sep 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
Sensorimotor integration is altered in people with chronic pain. While there is substantial evidence that pain interferes with neural activity in primary sensory and motor cortices, much less is known about its impact on integrative sensorimotor processes. Here, the short latency afferent inhibition [...] Read more.
Sensorimotor integration is altered in people with chronic pain. While there is substantial evidence that pain interferes with neural activity in primary sensory and motor cortices, much less is known about its impact on integrative sensorimotor processes. Here, the short latency afferent inhibition (SAI) paradigm was used to assess sensorimotor integration in the presence and absence of experimental cutaneous heat pain applied to the hand. Ulnar nerve stimulation was combined with transcranial magnetic stimulation to condition motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the first dorsal interosseous muscle. Four interstimulus intervals (ISI) were tested, based on the latency of the N20 component of the afferent sensory volley (N20−5 ms, N20+2 ms, N20+4 ms, N20+10 ms). In the PAIN condition, MEPs were smaller compared to the NEUTRAL condition (p = 0.005), and were modulated as a function of the ISI (p = 0.012). Post-hoc planned comparisons revealed that MEPs at N20+2 and N20+4 were inhibited compared to unconditioned MEPs. However, the level of inhibition (SAI) was similar in the PAIN and NEUTRAL conditions. This suggests that the interplay between pain and sensorimotor integration is not mediated through direct and rapid pathways as assessed by SAI, but rather might involve higher-order integrative areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Reliability and Variability of tDCS Induced Changes in the Lower Limb Motor Cortex
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(3), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6030026 - 27 Jul 2016
Cited by 14
Abstract
Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is emerging as a promising adjuvant to enhance motor function. However, there has been increasing reservations about the reliability and variability of the neuromodulatory effects evoked by tDCS. Objective/Hypothesis: The main purpose of this study was to [...] Read more.
Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is emerging as a promising adjuvant to enhance motor function. However, there has been increasing reservations about the reliability and variability of the neuromodulatory effects evoked by tDCS. Objective/Hypothesis: The main purpose of this study was to explore the test-retest reliability and inter-individual variability of tDCS of the lower limb M1 and the relationship between transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-related measures and tDCS-induced changes. Methods: Fifteen healthy participants received anodal tDCS of the lower limb M1 either when performing a lower limb motor task or when the limb was at rest. Each condition was tested twice. tDCS induced changes in corticomotor excitability of the tibialis anterior muscle were measured using TMS. A repeated measures ANOVA was performed to examine efficacy of tDCS between the two task conditions. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) and variance component analyses were performed to examine reliability and variability respectively. Results: A significant increase in in corticomotor excitability was noted for the tDCS-task condition at 140% active motor threshold (AMT) and when comparing recruitment curve slopes, but not at 120% and 130% AMT. Overall, ICC values between testing days for each stimulation condition ranged from 0.6–0.9. Higher ICCs were seen for higher TMS intensities (140% AMT) and recruitment curve slopes. Inter-individual variability contributed to 34% of the exhibited variance. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the TMS-related measure used to assess neuromodulation after tDCS has an effect on its perceived test-retest reliability and inter-individual variability. Importantly, we noticed that a high reliability and low variability does not necessarily indicate clinical efficacy of tDCS as some participants showed little to no modulation of corticomotor excitability consistently. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Sound of Vision Project: On the Feasibility of an Audio-Haptic Representation of the Environment, for the Visually Impaired
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6030020 - 27 Jun 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
The Sound of Vision project involves developing a sensory substitution device that is aimed at creating and conveying a rich auditory representation of the surrounding environment to the visually impaired. However, the feasibility of such an approach is strongly constrained by neural flexibility, [...] Read more.
The Sound of Vision project involves developing a sensory substitution device that is aimed at creating and conveying a rich auditory representation of the surrounding environment to the visually impaired. However, the feasibility of such an approach is strongly constrained by neural flexibility, possibilities of sensory substitution and adaptation to changed sensory input. We review evidence for such flexibility from various perspectives. We discuss neuroplasticity of the adult brain with an emphasis on functional changes in the visually impaired compared to sighted people. We discuss effects of adaptation on brain activity, in particular short-term and long-term effects of repeated exposure to particular stimuli. We then discuss evidence for sensory substitution such as Sound of Vision involves, while finally discussing evidence for adaptation to changes in the auditory environment. We conclude that sensory substitution enterprises such as Sound of Vision are quite feasible in light of the available evidence, which is encouraging regarding such projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motor Control and Brain Plasticity)
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