Estimating the sources of motor errors for adaptation and generalization

Nat Neurosci. 2008 Dec;11(12):1454-61. doi: 10.1038/nn.2229. Epub 2008 Nov 16.


Motor adaptation is usually defined as the process by which our nervous system produces accurate movements while the properties of our bodies and our environment continuously change. Many experimental and theoretical studies have characterized this process by assuming that the nervous system uses internal models to compensate for motor errors. Here we extend these approaches and construct a probabilistic model that not only compensates for motor errors but estimates the sources of these errors. These estimates dictate how the nervous system should generalize. For example, estimated changes of limb properties will affect movements across the workspace but not movements with the other limb. We provide evidence that many movement-generalization phenomena emerge from a strategy by which the nervous system estimates the sources of our motor errors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology*
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Upper Extremity / physiology