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Short-term adaptation indicates the attenuation of the functional MRI (fMRI) response during repeated task execution. It is considered to be a physiological process, but it is unknown whether short-term adaptation changes significantly in patients with brain disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). In order to investigate short-term adaptation during a repeated right-hand tapping task in both controls and in patients with MS, we analyzed the fMRI data collected in a large cohort of controls and MS patients who were recruited into a multi-centre European fMRI study. Four fMRI runs were acquired for each of the 55 controls and 56 MS patients at baseline and 33 controls and 26 MS patients at 1-year follow-up. The externally cued (1 Hz) right hand tapping movement was limited to 3 cm amplitude by using at all sites (7 at baseline and 6 at follow-up) identically manufactured wooden frames. No significant differences in cerebral activation were found between sites. Furthermore, our results showed linear response adaptation (i.e. reduced activation) from run 1 to run 4 (over a 25 minute period) in the primary motor area (contralateral more than ipsilateral), in the supplementary motor area and in the primary sensory cortex, sensory-motor cortex and cerebellum, bilaterally. This linear activation decay was the same in both control and patient groups, did not change between baseline and 1-year follow-up and was not influenced by the modest disease progression observed over 1 year. These findings confirm that the short-term adaptation to a simple motor task is a physiological process which is preserved in MS.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





500 - 511


Adaptation, Physiological, Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Evoked Potentials, Motor, Female, Hand, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Skills, Movement, Multiple Sclerosis, Task Performance and Analysis, Young Adult