Brain motor functional changes after somatosensory discrimination training

Elisabetta Sarasso, Federica Agosta, Federico Temporiti, Paola Adamo, Fabio Piccolo, Massimiliano Copetti, Roberto Gatti, Massimo Filippi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Somatosensory discrimination training may modulate cognitive processes, such as movement planning and monitoring, which can be useful during active movements. The aim of the study was to assess the effect of somatosensory discrimination training on brain functional activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during motor and sensory tasks in healthy subjects. Thirty-nine healthy young subjects were randomized into two groups: the experimental group underwent somatosensory discrimination training consisting of shape, surface and two-point distance discrimination; and the control group performed a simple object manipulation. At baseline and after 2 weeks of training, subjects underwent sensorimotor evaluations and fMRI tasks consisting of right-hand tactile stimulation, manipulation of a simple object, and complex right-hand motor sequence execution. Right-hand dexterity improved in both groups, but only the experimental group showed improvements in all manual dexterity tests. After training, the experimental group showed: decreased activation of the ipsilateral sensorimotor areas during the tactile stimulation task; increased activation of the contralateral postcentral gyrus and thalamus bilaterally during the manipulation task; and a reduced recruitment of the ipsilateral pre/postcentral gyri and an increased activation of the basal ganglia and cerebellum contralaterally during the complex right-hand motor task. In healthy subjects, sensory discrimination training was associated with lateralization of brain activity in sensorimotor areas during sensory and motor tasks. Further studies are needed to investigate the usefulness of this training in motor rehabilitation of patients with focal lesions in the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 31 2017


  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Healthy volunteers
  • Physical therapy
  • Sensorimotor cortex
  • Touch perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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