Neural basis of motor control and its cognitive implications

Emilio Bizzi*, Ferdinande A. Mussa-Ivaldi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


It has recently been demonstrated that human subjects and nonhuman primates adapt their arm movements when subjected to complex patterns of disturbing forces. The presence of aftereffects following the removal of the disturbing forces indicates that adaptation takes place through the development of an internal model of the disturbing force. The experimental evidence described in this paper has identified some important properties of this internal model: (1) it is limited to a region surrounding that part of the space where the disturbances had been experienced; (2) there is an enhancement of the internal model that depends only on the passage of time; and (3) there is a process of consolidation of the internal model, which takes a minimum of four hours. Anatomically, the substrate of the internal model is distributed; the motor cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum are interconnected structures that are active to different degrees during the acquisition of motor skills. Recent investigation of the spinal cord has suggested the existence of modules that organize the motor output in a discrete set of synergies. The outputs of these modules combine by addition, and might thus form the building blocks for the internal models represented by supraspinal structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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