Neural effects of short term motor learning

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Christoffer Gøthgen
  • Mathias Brønd Sørensen
Motor learning is important for human survival and is vital in rehabilitation of lost function. Increase in performance is not necessarily the best way of quantifying motor learning as it might be short lived and unable to transfer to similar skills.
Furthermore it is impossible to know how the underlying neurophysiology changes. The aim of the present project was to investigate methods of quantifying short term motor learning within EEG features. The features investigated were the movement related cortical potential (MRCP), the event-related desynchronization/synchronization (ERD/ERS), corticomuscular coherence and brain waves from rest EEG. In order to assess the features an experiment was conducted including 19 subjects performing various motor tasks with their non-dominant hand, together with rest EEG sessions. Data obtained from the experiment were analyzed and statistically compared from the pre-session to the post-session in order to see effect of the intervention. Mean bereitschaftspotential, mean negative slope, peak movement potential, ERD/ERS following Pfurtscheller’s method, coherence measures and center of mass from the heat map of power spectral density in rest EEG, was used in the analysis of the data. Subjects improved performance during the experiment, which was reflected as producing less errors during the intervention. Even though this was the case a significant change within the features was only seen as a posterior shift of the center of mass of heat maps and only in the beta band during the closed eyes rest session. No significant change was seen within any of the other features. If motor learning had been induced within the subjects it was not possible to quantify with the used features and equipment. Large variability suggests that EEG might not be a sensitive measure to evaluate the underlying neurophysiological changes associated with motor learning. More studies are needed to provide an accurate assessment of the possible neural changes measureable following short term motor training using other features of the EEG.
Publication date7 Jun 2017
Number of pages102
ID: 259171243