Saturday, June 09, 2012

"Differential Recruitment of the Sensorimotor Putamen and Frontoparietal Cortex During Motor Chunking in Humans"

A new article of mine just came out. This is my second article on neuroscience, and there are plenty more where it came from! (I've been having a lot of fun working on projects in neuroscience, so I intend to continue doing a lot of work in this area.) This journal (Neuron) apparently doesn't have page proofs, which I did not realize. I usually do a final OCD pass on article text once page proofs are available, so I'll need to keep that in mind the next time I submit to this journal. Anyway, here is some information about the article. (And, by the way, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I convinced my coauthors to let me bring up Guitar Hero explicitly in the abstract. I purposely start my explanations of this project by bringing up Guitar Hero...)

Title: Differential Recruitment of the Sensorimotor Putamen and Frontoparietal Cortex During Motor Chunking in Humans

Authors: Nicholas F. Wymbs,Danielle S. Bassett, Peter J. Mucha, Mason A. Porter, and Scott T. Grafton

Abstract (which contains neither the word 'guitar' nor the word 'hero'): Motor chunking facilitates movement production by combining motor elements into integrated units of behavior. Previous research suggests that chunking involves two processes: concatenation, aimed at the formation of motor-motor associations between elements or sets of elements, and segmentation, aimed at the parsing of multiple contiguous elements into shorter action sets. We used fMRI to measure the trial-wise recruitment of brain regions associated with these chunking processes as healthy subjects performed a cued-sequence production task. A dynamic network analysis identified chunking structure for a set of motor sequences acquired during fMRI and collected over 3 days of training. Activity in the bilateral sensorimotor putamen positively correlated with chunk concatenation, whereas a left-hemisphere frontoparietal network was correlated with chunk segmentation. Across subjects, there was an aggregate increase in chunk strength (concatenation) with training, suggesting that subcortical circuits play a direct role in the creation of fluid transitions across chunks.

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