CBB Profs Present...Cognitive-motor interactions and their implications for motor learning-based interventions post-stroke with Sean Meehan
The efficacy of skilled practice in promoting beneficial brain reorganization to affect functional recovery has long been appreciated. However, current best practices to stroke rehabilitation are labour intensive and characterized by variable levels of functional recovery. In many cases, recovery of function in the stroke-affected limb is incomplete. Part of the variability in functional recovery across individuals may arise because of an incomplete understanding of the neural basis of learning. Learning, and by extension functional recovery, is not a singular process. They are comprised of separate abilities that operate on different time scales. One hypothesis is that excessive or compensatory reliance on conscious, declarative knowledge promotes quick, relatively transient, short-term increases in performance at the expense of sustained increases in procedural ability. However, the brain substrates by which declarative brain areas may shape procedural motor areas are unknown. We have recently used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a form of non-invasive brain stimulation, to identify two different brain circuits in motor cortex by which declarative strategies may shape procedural motor control. A preliminary study by our group also shows that one of these circuits is an important predictor of neuroplastic potential in motor cortex post-stroke. Continued work in this area is a critical step towards maximizing the benefits of current best practices by promoting optimal brain states that reduce variability in/increase the ceiling for skill acquisition in healthy and clinical populations.
Sean Meehan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. He completed his PhD in Kinesiology with a specialization in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo before completing his post-doctoral work in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC). Prior to returning to the University of Waterloo he was an Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan). Dr. Meehan’s research goals are to enhance our fundamental knowledge of the neural mechanisms governing sensory-motor control/learning and develop evidence-based interventions to augment learning and recovery.
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