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Involvement of primary somatosensory cortex in motor learning and task execution.

Neuroscience Letters 2024 March 29
The primary somatosensory cortex (S1) is responsible for processing information related to tactile stimulation, motor learning and control. Despite its significance, the connection between S1 and the primary motor cortex (M1), as well as its role in motor learning, remains a topic of ongoing exploration. In the present study, we silenced S1 by the GABA receptor agonist muscimol to study the potential roles of S1 in motor learning and task execution. Our results show that the inhibition of S1 leads to an immediate impairment in performance during the training session and also a substantial reduction in performance improvement during post-test session on the subsequent day. To understand the underlying mechanism, we used intravital two-photon imaging to investigate the dynamics of dendritic spines of layer V pyramidal neurons and the calcium activities of pyramidal neurons in M1 after inhibition of S1. Notably, S1 inhibition reduces motor training-induced spine formation and facilitates the elimination of existing spines of layer V pyramidal neurons in M1. The calcium activities in M1 exhibit a significant decrease during both resting and running periods following S1 inhibition. Furthermore, inhibition of S1, but not M1, significantly impairs the execution of the acquired motor task in the well-trained animals. Together, these findings reveal that S1 plays important roles in motor learning and task execution.

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