White matter microstructure changes induced by motor skill learning utilizing a body machine interface

Xue Wang, Maura Casadio, Kenneth A. Weber, Ferdinando A. Mussa-Ivaldi*, Todd B. Parrish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to identify white matter microstructure changes following bilateral upper extremity motor skill training to increase our understanding of learning-induced structural plasticity and enhance clinical strategies in physical rehabilitation. Eleven healthy subjects performed two visuo-spatial motor training tasks over 9 sessions (2-3 sessions per week). Subjects controlled a cursor with bilateral simultaneous movements of the shoulders and upper arms using a body machine interface. Before the start and within 2. days of the completion of training, whole brain diffusion tensor MR imaging data were acquired. Motor training increased fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the posterior and anterior limbs of the internal capsule, the corona radiata, and the body of the corpus callosum by 4.19% on average indicating white matter microstructure changes induced by activity-dependent modulation of axon number, axon diameter, or myelin thickness. These changes may underlie the functional reorganization associated with motor skill learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fractional anisotropy
  • Motor skill learning
  • White matter plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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