Brain circuits for the internal monitoring of movements

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2008;31:317-38. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.31.060407.125627.


Each movement we make activates our own sensory receptors, thus causing a problem for the brain: the spurious, movement-related sensations must be discriminated from the sensory inputs that really matter, those representing our environment. Here we consider circuits for solving this problem in the primate brain. Such circuits convey a copy of each motor command, known as a corollary discharge (CD), to brain regions that use sensory input. In the visual system, CD signals may help to produce a stable visual percept from the jumpy images resulting from our rapid eye movements. A candidate pathway for providing CD for vision ascends from the superior colliculus to the frontal cortex in the primate brain. This circuit conveys warning signals about impending eye movements that are used for planning subsequent movements and analyzing the visual world. Identifying this circuit has provided a model for studying CD in other primate sensory systems and may lead to a better understanding of motor and mental disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology