Remembering forward: Neural correlates of memory and prediction in human motor adaptation

Robert A. Scheidt*, Janice L. Zimbelman, Nicole M.G. Salowitz, Aaron J. Suminski, Kristine M. Mosier, James Houk, Lucia Simo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We used functional MR imaging (FMRI), a robotic manipulandum and systems identification techniques to examine neural correlates of predictive compensation for spring-like loads during goal-directed wrist movements in neurologically-intact humans. Although load changed unpredictably from one trial to the next, subjects nevertheless used sensorimotor memories from recent movements to predict and compensate upcoming loads. Prediction enabled subjects to adapt performance so that the task was accomplished with minimum effort. Population analyses of functional images revealed a distributed, bilateral network of cortical and subcortical activity supporting predictive load compensation during visual target capture. Cortical regions - including prefrontal, parietal and hippocampal cortices - exhibited trial-by-trial fluctuations in BOLD signal consistent with the storage and recall of sensorimotor memories or "states" important for spatial working memory. Bilateral activations in associative regions of the striatum demonstrated temporal correlation with the magnitude of kinematic performance error (a signal that could drive reward-optimizing reinforcement learning and the prospective scaling of previously learned motor programs). BOLD signal correlations with load prediction were observed in the cerebellar cortex and red nuclei (consistent with the idea that these structures generate adaptive fusimotor signals facilitating cancelation of expected proprioceptive feedback, as required for conditional feedback adjustments to ongoing motor commands and feedback error learning). Analysis of single subject images revealed that predictive activity was at least as likely to be observed in more than one of these neural systems as in just one. We conclude therefore that motor adaptation is mediated by predictive compensations supported by multiple, distributed, cortical and subcortical structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-600
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2012


  • Feedforward control
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI)
  • Learning
  • Motor adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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