Two distinct interneuron circuits in human motor cortex are linked to different subsets of physiological and behavioral plasticity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Masashi Hamada
  • V Di Lazzaro
  • P Mazzone
  • U Ziemann
  • JC Rothwell

Colleges, School and Institutes


How does a single brain region participate in multiple behaviors? Here we argue that two separate interneuron circuits in the primary motor cortex (M1) contribute differently to two varieties of physiological and behavioral plasticity. To test this in human brain noninvasively, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of M1 hand area to activate two independent sets of synaptic inputs to corticospinal neurons by changing the direction of current induced in the brain: posterior-to-anterior current (PA inputs) and anterior-to-posterior current (AP inputs). We demonstrate that excitability changes produced by repetitive activation of AP inputs depend on cerebellar activity and selectively alter model-based motor learning. In contrast, the changes observed with repetitive stimulation of PA inputs are independent of cerebellar activity and specifically modulate model-free motor learning. The findings are highly suggestive that separate circuits in M1 subserve different forms of motor learning.


Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)12837-49
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2014