Sensitivity of cortical movement representations to motor experience: evidence that skill learning but not strength training induces cortical reorganization

Michael S. Remple, Rochelle M. Bruneau, Penny M. VandenBerg, Crystal Goertzen, Jeffrey Kleim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

226 Scopus citations


The topography of forelimb movement representations within the rat motor cortex was examined following forelimb strength training. Adult male rats were allocated to either a Power Reaching, Control Reaching or Non-Reaching Condition. Power Reaching rats were trained to grasp and break progressively larger bundles of dried pasta strands with their preferred forelimb. Control Reaching animals were trained to break a single pasta strand and Non-Reaching animals were not trained. Power Reaching animals exhibited a progressive increase in the maximal size of the pasta bundle that could be retrieved during a 30-day training period. Kinematic analyses showed that this improvement was not due to a change in reaching strategy. Intracortical microelectrode stimulation was used to derive maps of forelimb movement representations within the motor cortex of all animals following training. In comparison to Non-Reaching animals, both Power Reaching and Control Reaching animals exhibited a significant increase in the proportion of motor cortex occupied by distal forelimb movement representations (wrist/digit) and a decrease in the proportion of proximal representations (elbow/shoulder). These results demonstrate that the development of skilled forelimb movements, but not increased forelimb strength, was associated with a reorganization of forelimb movement representations within motor cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 14 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Experience
  • Intracortical microstimulation
  • Motor cortex
  • Motor skill
  • Plasticity
  • Rat
  • Strength training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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