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Seminar: 11/18 - Stephan Swinnen

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  

Univ. of Leuven, Department of Biomedical Kinesiology
"The neural basis of interlimb coordination and the dynamics of learning-related changes in brain activation during bimanual skill learning."

The study of interlimb coordination has received considerable attention during the past years whereby behavioural and neural approaches become increasingly integrated. This lecture will start with a discussion of behavioural work on principal coordination constraints and how these can be overcome by means of sources of augmented feedback that promote the unifying features of the coordination pattern. The second part will address the neural basis of interlimb coordination. More specifically, the question will be addressed whether a particular coordination center exists in the brain or whether it is more fruitful to consider a neural network responsible for coordination, involving the concerted action of many brain regions. Changes in the brain network as a result of manipulations of cycling frequency and coordination complexity will be addressed. Finally, we will discuss changes in the brain activation network as a result of learning new coordination patterns as well as basic differences between performance of coordination patterns in the presence and absence of augmented visual feedback, i.e., internal and external generation of movement and their associated networks. We will report about the learning-related activation changes during the acquisition of a complex bimanual coordination pattern, requiring a new spatio-temporal relationship between the limbs. Our results suggest that bimanual skill learning is associated with a partial shift in activation from cortical to subcortical regions and with changes in cortico-subcortical circuits, preferentially involved during the early or advanced stages of learning. The observed activation changes account for the transition from highly attention-demanding task performance, involving processing of sensory information and online movement correction, to automatic performance based on memory representations and forward control.