Practice Makes Imperfect

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Science  13 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5626, pp. 1623
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5626.1623d

Musicians can be at risk of developing focal hand dystonia because they practice repetitive fine movements of their hands and fingers. The impairment in motor control and the difficulty in making coordinated noncramping movements are thought to reflect an abnormal and induced disorganized representation of the fingers in the somatosensory cortex or motor cortex or both. Physical therapy to regain sensory discrimination and motor fitness has been employed, and Candia et al. describe evidence indicating that behavioral improvement is accompanied by neural changes. They find that the topographic maps of the fingers in the somatosensory cortex return to their normal order in which the distance between digits 1 and 2 (D1-D2) is less than the distance D2-D5, which, in turn, is less than D1-D5.—GJC

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1231193100 (2003).

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