Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trouble with the latest dance move? GABA might be to blame

Date:
March 4, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
If you tend to have trouble picking up the latest dance moves or learning to play a new piano piece, there might be an explanation. A new study shows that people who are fast to learn a simple sequence of finger motions are also those whose brains show large changes in a particular chemical messenger following electrical stimulation.

If you tend to have trouble picking up the latest dance moves or learning to play a new piano piece, there might be an explanation. A new study published online on March 3rd in Current Biology, shows that people who are fast to learn a simple sequence of finger motions are also those whose brains show large changes in a particular chemical messenger following electrical stimulation.

That chemical messenger, known as GABA, is important for the plasticity of the motor cortex, a brain region involved in planning, control, and execution of voluntary movements.

"There is considerable variability in motor learning behavior across individuals," said Charlotte Stagg of the University of Oxford. "We aimed to test whether some of this variability could be explained by variation in responsiveness of the GABA system."

The researchers used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to directly measure GABA levels in the brain both before and after a low-level current was delivered through research participants' scalps. That procedure, called anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is known to produce a decrease in GABA within the motor cortex. The exercise therefore allowed the researchers to quantify individuals' baseline GABA levels and their "GABA responsiveness."

On a separate day, those individuals were asked to learn a sequence of finger motions while their brains were again scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It turned out that those who were more GABA responsive were also quicker to learn the simple motor task. The brains of more GABA-responsive individuals also showed greater activation in the motor cortex during learning. The researchers also found that those with higher GABA concentrations at baseline tended to have slower reaction times and less brain activation during learning.

The findings suggest that GABA responsiveness may be key in the motor cortex for making the neural connections that are the cellular basis for learning and memory, the researchers say. They also offer an important window into recovery after brain injury, such as a stroke.

GABA levels can change after that kind of brain trauma, and the findings support the idea that treatments designed to influence GABA levels might improve learning. In fact, tDCS is already in use as a tool for motor rehabilitation in stroke patients.

"This shows how that might work," Stagg said. It may also lead to strategies for making those improvements longer lasting, she added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Charlotte J. Stagg, Velicia Bachtiar, Heidi Johansen-Berg. The Role of GABA in Human Motor Learning. Current Biology, 03 March 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.069

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Trouble with the latest dance move? GABA might be to blame." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303132304.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, March 4). Trouble with the latest dance move? GABA might be to blame. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303132304.htm
Cell Press. "Trouble with the latest dance move? GABA might be to blame." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303132304.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) A look inside Monrovia's Island Hospital, a key treatment centre in the fight against Ebola in Liberia's capital city. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) The Ebola outbreak is putting stress on first responders in Liberia. Ambulance drivers say they are struggling with chronic shortages of safety equipment and patients who don't want to go to the hospital. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) After the announcement that the first U.S. patient had been diagnosed with Ebola, doctors were quick to say a U.S. outbreak is highly unlikely. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Medical officials from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital confirm they are treating a patient with the Ebola virus, the first case found in the US. (Sept. 30 Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins