Objective: To examine the role of practice in the modification of force enslaving and motor-related cortical potentials using finger force production tasks. This study follows-up previous studies in our laboratory using experienced piano players. Methods: Two experiments were performed. In Expt. 1, 6 subjects participated in a pre and post EEG session separated by 12 practice sessions which were conducted 3 days a week for 4 weeks. With visual feedback regarding the accuracy of force output, subjects produced one of two force levels with either their ring or index finger. Experiment 2 followed a similar procedure to that of Expt. 1 with additional visual feedback to the degree of finger independency. Both behavioral (isometric force output) and EEG data preceding and accompanying force responses were measured. Results: In Expt. 1 we found that forced enslaving increased along with improved accuracy following 4 weeks of practice. We found a reduction of motor potential (MP) amplitude for the index but not the ring finger following practice. Experiment 2 showed an increase in accuracy and reduction in force enslaving after practice with adequate feedback. The amplitude of MP for the index finger also decreased after practice as in Expt. 1. In contrast, the amplitude of MP for the ring finger increased after practice. Conclusions: The present study extends our earlier work with piano players and shows the role of practice in modifying behavioral and cortical measures. The concluding theme emergent from our studies is that individuated finger control is not hard-wired, but rather plastic and greatly influenced by deliberate practice. Significance: This research supports the idea that experience and practice are associated with changes in behavioral and EEG correlates of task performance and have clinical implications in disorders such as stroke or dystonia. Practice-related procedures offer useful approaches to rehabilitation strategies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems
- Clinical Neurology
- Physiology (medical)