How are the motor system activity and functional connectivity between the cognitive and sensorimotor systems modulated by athletic expertise?

Barbara Tomasino, Marta Maieron, Elisa Guatto, Franco Fabbro, Raffaella Ida Rumiati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Expertise offers a unique insight into how our brain functions. The purpose of this experiment was to determine if motor system activity and functional connectivity between the cognitive system and sensorimotor system is differentially modulated by an individual's level of expertise. This goal was achieved through the acquisition of functional neuroimaging data in 10 expert volleyball players and 10 novice individuals who were presented with a series of sentences describing possible technical volleyball-specific motor acts and acts that cannot be performed as positive ("Do ...!") or negative ("Don't ...") commands, while they were silently reading them and deciding whether the actions were technically feasible or not. Compared with novices, experts' activity in the left primary motor cortex hand area (M1) and in the left premotor cortex (Pm) was decreased by impossible actions presented as positive commands. Sensorimotor activation in response to action-related stimuli is not that automatic as held since we found that these areas were deactivated during the task, and their functional connectivity to the primary visual cortex was strengthened for possible actions presented as positive commands, reflecting the neural processes underlying the interaction between motor and visual imagery. These results suggest that the neural activity within the key areas implicitly triggered by motor simulation is a function of the expertise, action feasibility, and context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-41
Number of pages21
JournalBrain Research
Volume1540
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2013

Keywords

  • Action processing
  • FMRI
  • Implicit mental imagery
  • Motor expertise
  • Motor system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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