Practice Makes the Brain’s Motor Cortex More Efficient

“What is really important is that our results indicate that practice changes the primary motor cortex so that it can become an important substrate for the storage of motor skills. Thus, the motor cortex is adaptable, or plastic.” – Dr. Peter Strick.

“Not only does practice make perfect, it also makes for more efficient generation of neuronal activity in the primary motor cortex, the area of the brain that plans and executes movement, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Peter Strick, Ph.D., and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings, published online in Nature Neuroscience, showed that practice leads to decreased metabolic activity for internally generated movements, but not for visually guided motor tasks, and suggest the motor cortex is “plastic” and a potential site for the storage of motor skills.
The hand area of the primary motor cortex is known to be larger among professional pianists than in amateur ones. This observation has suggested that extensive practice and the development of expert performance induces changes in the primary motor cortex, said senior investigator Dr. Strick, Distinguished Professor and chair, Department of Neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine.”