David J Ostry 2012-11-26 3 pm
Sensory Plasticity and Motor Learning
Abstract: Research on plasticity in motor systems has for the most part developed separately from work on sensory plasticity, as if learning affected each of these systems in isolation. But increasingly there is evidence that the effects of plasticity spread from motor to sensory systems and vice versa. In this talk I will describe some recent work from our laboratory that shows that the effects of motor learning are not limited to motor areas of the brain but rather, the influence is more extensive, extending into non-motor areas and notably into cortical sensory systems. I will also describe recent studies that show that these effects occur in the opposite direction, and importantly that somatosensory training facilitates motor learning and results in persistent changes not only to sensory areas of the brain but also to cortical motor areas. Our work suggests an approach to neuroplasticity in which modifications to sensory or motor systems do not occur in isolation, but rather each has effects that spread into functionally related areas of the brain.
McGill University and Haskins Laboratories