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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in learning, memory, and brain plasticity. Humans with a val66met polymorphism in the BDNF gene have reduced levels of BDNF and alterations in motor learning and short-term cortical plasticity. In the current study, we sought to further explore the role of BDNF in motor learning by testing human subjects on a visuomotor adaptation task. In experiment 1, 21 subjects with the polymorphism (val/met) and 21 matched controls (val/val) were tested during learning, short-term retention (45 min), long-term retention (24 h), and de-adaptation of a 60° visuomotor deviation. We measured both mean error as well as rate of adaptation during each session. There was no difference in mean error between groups; however, val/met subjects had a reduced rate of adaptation during learning as well as during long-term retention, but not short-term retention or de-adaptation. In experiment 2, 12 val/met and 12 val/val subjects were tested on a larger 80° deviation, revealing a more pronounced difference in mean error during adaptation than the 60° deviation. These results suggest that BDNF may play an important role in visuomotor adaptive processes in the human.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s00221-012-3239-9

Type

Journal

Exp Brain Res

Publication Date

11/2012

Volume

223

Pages

43 - 50

Keywords

Adaptation, Physiological, Amino Acid Substitution, Analysis of Variance, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Female, Genotype, Humans, Learning, Male, Polymorphism, Genetic, Psychomotor Performance, Young Adult