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We have used positron tomography (PET) to demonstrate that some parts of the motor system exhibit physiological adaptation during the repeated performance of a simple motor task, but others do not. In contrast to the primary sensori-motor cortex, the cerebellum exhibits a decrease in physiological activation (increases in regional blood flow during performance) with practice. A new application of factorial experimental design to PET activation studies was used to make these measurements in four normal males. This design allowed adaptation to be examined by testing for an interaction between regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) increases brought about by a motor task and the number of trials (time). These findings are interpreted as the neurophysiological correlates of synaptic changes in the cerebellum associated with motor learning in man.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Biol Sci

Publication Date





223 - 228


Adaptation, Physiological, Adult, Cerebellum, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Humans, Male, Neurophysiology, Psychomotor Performance, Synapses, Tomography, Emission-Computed