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Intense training overcomes effects of the val66met BDNF polymorphism on short-term plasticity


The val(66)met polymorphism in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene impacts activity-dependent secretion of BDNF and modifies short-term cortical plasticity. The current study examined whether sustained training overcomes polymorphism effects on short-term plasticity and also examined polymorphism effects on long-term plasticity. Twenty-four subjects completed a 12-day protocol of daily training on a marble navigation task that required intense use of the first dorsal interosseus (FDI) muscle. In parallel, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) mapping was used to assess serial measures of short-term cortical motor map plasticity, plus long-term cortical motor map plasticity, of the cortical FDI map. On Day 1, subjects with the polymorphism did not show significant short-term cortical motor map plasticity over 30 min of FDI activity, but subjects without the polymorphism did. After 5 days of intense training, a genotype-based difference in short-term cortical motor map plasticity was no longer found, as both groups showed short-term plasticity across the 30 min of FDI activity. Also, across 12 days of training, map area decreased significantly, in a manner that did not vary in relation to genotype. Training of sufficient intensity and duration overcomes effects that the val(66)met polymorphism has on short-term cortical motor map plasticity. The polymorphism-related differences seen with short-term plasticity are not found with long-term cortical motor map plasticity.

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