Motor skill learning requires active central myelination

Ian A. McKenzie, David Ohayon, Huiliang Li, Joana Paes De Faria, Ben Emery, Koujiro Tohyama, William D. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

417 Scopus citations

Abstract

Myelin-forming oligodendrocytes (OLs) are formed continuously in the healthy adult brain. In this work, we study the function of these late-forming cells and the myelin they produce. Learning a new motor skill (such as juggling) alters the structure of the brain's white matter, which contains many OLs, suggesting that late-born OLs might contribute to motor learning. Consistent with this idea, we show that production of newly formed OLs is briefly accelerated in mice that learn a new skill (running on a "complex wheel" with irregularly spaced rungs). By genetically manipulating the transcription factor myelin regulatory factor in OL precursors, we blocked production of new OLs during adulthood without affecting preexisting OLs or myelin. This prevented the mice from mastering the complex wheel. Thus, generation of new OLs and myelin is important for learning motor skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-322
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume346
Issue number6207
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    McKenzie, I. A., Ohayon, D., Li, H., De Faria, J. P., Emery, B., Tohyama, K., & Richardson, W. D. (2014). Motor skill learning requires active central myelination. Science, 346(6207), 318-322. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1254960