Rythmes cérébraux impliqués dans le traitement des erreurs, des répétitions et des récompenses pour l'apprentissage moteur

 

Pierre-Michel Bernier

Université deSherbrooke

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2019-2020

Neuroplasticity is at the core of humans' capacity for motor control and learning. It is also key to promoting physical function and task performance in patients following insult to the brain, such as stroke. Over the past two decades, behavioural work has provided profound insight into the computational principles that underlie motor learning. Namely, the trial-by-trial changes in motor behaviour that subtend the acquisition of a new motor behaviour have been shown to depend upon movement errors. In turn, the long-term storage of motor memories (i.e. retention) has been shown to depend upon movement repetitions and the presence of rewards. Still, there remains an important gap in our understanding of how these processes manifest in the brain, and in particular how functional interactions between brain regions change during learning.

My research investigates learning-related reorganization in the human sensorimotor network from a systems level perspective. I focus on rhythmic brain activity, regarded as playing a key role in enabling functional communication between regions of a network. The specific objective of my program is to characterize how errors, repetitions and rewards impact oscillatory activity as measured with electroencephalography (EEG). A major goal is to establish a causal link between these neural phenomena and behavioural determinants of learning, using brain stimulation techniques.

Ultimately, my hope is that the identification of non-invasive biomarkers of errors, repetitions and rewards, in addition to causal evidence that they relate to acquisition and retention of motor memories, will help guide therapeutic interventions destined to modulate brain rhythms in order to optimize neuroplasticity and motor learning.