New brain connections form rapidly during motor learning

November 30th, 2009 - 1:18 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 30 (ANI): A new study conducted on mice has shown that new connections begin to form between brain cells almost immediately as they learn a new task.

The research team from the University of California, Santa Cruz said that these findings might help understand rewiring processes that take place in the brain during motor learning.

They studied mice as they were trained to reach through a slot to get a seed.

The researchers found that learning a new task led to the growth of structures that form connections called synapses, between nerve cells in the motor cortex, the area involved in controlling muscle movements.

“We found very quick and robust synapse formation almost immediately, within one hour of the start of training,” Nature magazine quoted Yi Zuo, assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UCSC as saying.

They also found that dendritic spines form synapses with other nerve cells, where pyramidal neurons receive input from other brain regions involved in motor memories and muscle movements.

“Motor learning makes a permanent mark in the brain. When you learn to ride a bicycle, once the motor memory is formed, you don’t forget. The same is true when a mouse learns a new motor skill; the animal learns how to do it and never forgets,” Zuo added. (ANI)

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