Instructive signals for motor learning from visual cortical area MT

Nat Neurosci. 2005 Jun;8(6):813-9. doi: 10.1038/nn1470. Epub 2005 May 22.


Sensory error signals have long been proposed to act as instructive signals to guide motor learning. Here we have exploited the temporal specificity of learning in smooth pursuit eye movements and the well-defined anatomical structure of the neural circuit for pursuit to identify a part of sensory cortex that provides instructive signals for motor learning in monkeys. We show that electrical microstimulation in the motion-sensitive middle temporal area (MT) of extrastriate visual cortex instructs learning in smooth eye movements in a way that closely mimics the learning instructed by real visual motion. We conclude that MT provides instructive signals for motor learning in smooth pursuit eye movements under natural conditions, suggesting a similar role for sensory cortices in many kinds of learned behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*