July 6, 2009

Magnetic brain stimulation helps learning

Canadian scientists say they've determined the use of magnetic brain stimulation results in an improved ability to learn a skilled motor task.

University of British Columbia scientists said they studied transcranial magnetic stimulation of the dorsal premotor cortex region of the brain. They said they found skilled movements can be stored as memories and magnetic stimulation of that brain area can facilitate the learning process.

A group of volunteers received four days of training, during which they were given either stimulation or sham stimulation immediately before practicing the motor task. The volunteers were not aware of which group they were in. On the fifth day, they were tested to see how well they had learned the task. The researchers were able to separate the general improvement due to practice from the learned motor memory of the repeated task.

Our data support the hypothesis that the (dorsal premotor cortex) is important for continuous motor learning "¦, said researchers Lara Boyd and Meghan Linsdell,

They report their study in the journal BMC Neuroscience.