Tuesday 29 July, 2014

How quickly you learn those dance moves may be in your genes

Published On: Fri, Mar 4th, 2011 | Neurobiology | By BioNews

Do you find it easy to pick up a dance move or are you the kind with two left feet? Either way, you have your genes to thank or blame, says a new study.

The study from University of Oxford says that people who are fast to learn a simple sequence of finger motions are also those whose brains show large changes in a particular chemical messenger following electrical stimulation.

“There is considerable variability in motor learning behaviour across individuals. We aimed to test whether some of this variability could be explained by variation in responsiveness of the GABA system,” said Charlotte Stagg.

The team used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to directly measure GABA levels in the brain both before and after a low-level current was delivered through research participants’ scalps.

The researchers found that those who were more GABA responsive were also quicker to learn the simple motor task. The brains of more GABA-responsive individuals also showed greater activation in the motor cortex during learning.

Those with higher GABA concentrations at baseline tended to have slower reaction times and less brain activation during learning.

The findings offer an important window into recovery after brain injury, such as a stroke.

GABA levels can change after that kind of brain trauma, and the findings support the idea that treatments designed to influence GABA levels might improve learning.

“This shows how that might work,” Stagg said.

It may also lead to strategies for making those improvements longer lasting, she added.

The study is published online on March 3rd in Current Biology. (ANI)

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