Motor skill training and strength training are associated with the same plastic changes in the central nervous system

Michael Leung, Timo Rantalainen, Wei-Peng Teo, Dawson Kidgell

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Introduction: The neural adaptations that accompany motor skill training are well documented; however whether skill training and strength are associated with the same plastic changes in the central nervous system have yet to be fully determined. Here we sought to address this topic by testing the idea that strength training might share similar mechanisms with some forms of motor skill learning. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that the magnitude of cortical plasticity would not be different following skill and strength training and that both skill and strength training can propagate the neural mechanisms mediating the cross-transfer of motor function and modulate the ipsilateral primary motor cortex (iM1). Methods: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) measured baseline corticospinal excitability and short-interval intracortical inhibition in the contralateral primary motor cortex (cM1) and the ipsilateral iM1. Participants completed 4 sets of unilateral training with their dominant arm, either visuomotor tracking, metronomepaced strength training (MPST), self-paced strength training (SPST) or control. Immediately post training, TMS was repeated in both M1s. Results: Corticospinal excitability increased and inhibition was reduced for skill and MPST training from baseline in both M1s. Selfpaced strength training and control did not produce any changes in corticospinal excitability and short-interval intracortical inhibition when compared to baseline in both M1s. After training, skill and MPST increased corticospinal excitability and decreased short-interval intracortical inhibition in cM1 compared to SPST and control. Skill and MPST training decreased SICI in iM1 compared to SPST and control post intervention; however, corticospinal excitability in iM1 was not different across groups post training. Discussion: Both skill training and MPST facilitated an increase in corticospinal excitability and released short-interval intracortical inhibition in iM1 and cM1 compared to baseline. Our results suggest that synchronizing to an auditory or a visual cue promotes neural adaptations within the iM1, which is thought to mediate cross transfer. We suggest that these neural responses to strength training, which share similar corticospinal changes to motor learning, might reflect an important process that precedes more long-term neural adaptation that ultimately enhance strength.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e19-e19
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventBe Active Sports Medicine Australia National Conference 2015 - Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 21 Oct 201524 Oct 2015

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