CRNL Seminar
Friday, November 27, 2015 - 10:30am

Denis Pélisson is delighted to welcome Claudio Brozzoli from the Karolinska Institutet to give a conference on: Temporal dynamic of structural plasticity in sensorimotor cortices During the last decade, studies investigating brain mechanisms behind learning have revealed that brain plasticity, even though reduced after normal childhood development, yet endures in the adult life. Learning indeed triggers changes in the brain not only at the functional but also at the structural level, i.e. local increase of cortical volume and thickness. Most recent results in animal models have suggested that structural brain plasticity follows a consistent temporal pattern: the initial expansion of structures involved in training is followed by a return to baseline levels after the learning phase. I will present our recent studies showing functional brain plasticity in human sensorimotor cortices involved in the representation of the body and the space near the body. In particular, in our most recent research we investigated the temporal dynamic of structural plasticity within those circuits in the human brain. To this aim we acquired structural and functional images in a group of healthy participants, in 10 occasions regularly during an extensive (5 months) motor training. Our preliminary results suggest that structural plasticity follows an expansion-renormalization model in humans as well. In line with the results described in animal models we suggest that the explanation for this time-course of plasticity is that initial increase of cortical volume reflects a so-to-say “work in progress” within local neuronal circuits, allowing for integrating the new skill through an optimal “rewiring”. Once this has occurred the volume returns to baseline. I will in the end introduce a sensorimotor paradigm, based on learning how to use a mechanical tool, that can reveal effective for inducing plasticity in sensorimotor brain structures. I will discuss the possible implications of those results for cognitive learning. ImpAct lab - Conference room