Motor skill learning and execution in a distributed brain network
On February 8th 2018, Dr. Steffen Wolff from Harvard University will give a talk titled: Motor skill learning and execution in a distributed brain network. The talk takes place at the Faculty Club, Panum Institue in Copenhagen. The talk starts at 3 pm.
Abstract: Our daily activities are largely built from complex sequences of movements, whether it is tying our shoes, serving a tennis serve or playing the piano. The ability to perform such actions, often with little mental effort, depends on the distributed motor network in our brains. While many individual components of this network have been identified, less is known about their specific roles and how they interact during learning and execution of motor skills. We are addressing these questions by training rats in a timed lever-pressing task that produces complex and highly stereotyped movement sequences. I am probing the contributions of individual brain regions and their inter-connections by recording and manipulating their activities. In my talk, I will show that the basal ganglia, specifically the dorsolateral striatum (DLS), play a central role in the acquisition and execution of motor skills. I will further describe the specific roles of cortical and thalamic input to the DLS in these processes. Together, our results suggest a circuit level model of skill learning in which motor cortex guides plasticity at thalamo-striatal synapses.