Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Disengagement of motor cortex from movement control during long-term learning

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Science Advances  30 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaay0001
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay0001


Motor learning involves reorganization of the primary motor cortex (M1). However, it remains unclear how the involvement of M1 in movement control changes during long-term learning. To address this, we trained mice in a forelimb-based motor task over months and performed optogenetic inactivation and two-photon calcium imaging in M1 during the long-term training. We found that M1 inactivation impaired the forelimb movements in the early and middle stages, but not in the late stage, indicating that the movements that initially required M1 became independent of M1. As previously shown, M1 population activity became more consistent across trials from the early to middle stage while task performance rapidly improved. However, from the middle to late stage, M1 population activity became again variable despite consistent expert behaviors. This later decline in activity consistency suggests dissociation between M1 and movements. These findings suggest that long-term motor learning can disengage M1 from movement control.

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