Brain plasticity related to the consolidation of motor sequence learning and motor adaptation

Karen Debas, Julie Carrier, Pierre Orban, Marc Barakat, Ovidiu Lungu, Gilles Vandewalle, Abdallah Hadj Tahar, Pierre Bellec, Avi Karni, Leslie G. Ungerleider, Habib Benali, Julien Doyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to investigate, through functional MRI (fMRI), the neuronal substrates associated with the consolidation process of two motor skills: motor sequence learning (MSL) and motor adaptation (MA). Four groups of young healthy individuals were assigned to either (i) a night/sleep condition, in which they were scanned while practicing a finger sequence learning task or an eight-target adaptation pointing task in the evening (test) and were scanned again 12 h later in the morning (retest) or (ii) a day/awake condition, in which they were scanned on the MSL or the MA tasks in the morning and were rescanned 12 h later in the evening. As expected and consistent with the behavioral results, the functional data revealed increased test-retest changes of activity in the striatum for the night/sleep group compared with the day/awake group in the MSL task. By contrast, the results of the MA task did not show any difference in test-retest activity between the night/sleep and day/awake groups. When the two MA task groups were combined, however, increased test-retest activity was found in lobule VI of the cerebellar cortex. Together, these findings highlight the presence of both functional and structural dissociations reflecting the off-line consolidation processes of MSL and MA. They suggest that MSL consolidation is sleep dependent and reflected by a differential increase of neural activity within the corticostriatal system, whereas MA consolidation necessitates either a period of daytime or sleep and is associated with increased neuronal activity within the corticocerebellar system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17839-17844
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
StatePublished - 12 Oct 2010


  • Functional MRI
  • Memory consolidation
  • Motor learning
  • Sleep
  • Wakefulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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