Basal ganglia contribution to the initiation of corrective submovements

Eugene Tunik, James C. Houk, Scott T. Grafton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We investigated the neural processes, with a focus on subcortical circuits, which govern corrective submovements in visually targeted action. During event-related fMRI, subjects moved a cursor to capture targets presented at varying movement amplitudes. Movements were performed in a rehearsed null and a novel viscous (25% random trials) torque field. Movement error feedback was provided after each trial. The viscous field invoked a significantly larger error at the end of the primary movement. Subjects compensated by producing more corrections than they had in the null condition. Corrective submovements were appropriately scaled such that terminal error was similar between the two conditions. Parametric analysis identified two regions where the BOLD signal correlated with the number of submovements per trial: a cerebellar region similar to the one noted in the task contrast and the contralateral dorsal putamen. A separate parametric analysis identified brain regions where activity correlated with movement amplitude. This identified the same cerebellar region as above, bilateral parietal cortex, and left motor and premotor cortex. Our data indicate that the basal ganglia and cerebellum play complementary roles in regulating ongoing actions when precise updating is required. The basal ganglia have a key role in contextually-based motor decision-making, i.e. for deciding if and when to correct a given movement by initiating corrective submovements, and the cerebellum is more generally involved in amplifying and refining the command signals for movements of different amplitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1757-1766
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


  • Motor control
  • Online adaptation
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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