Prospective errors determine motor learning

Nat Commun. 2015 Jan 30;6:5925. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6925.


Diverse features of motor learning have been reported by numerous studies, but no single theoretical framework concurrently accounts for these features. Here, we propose a model for motor learning to explain these features in a unified way by extending a motor primitive framework. The model assumes that the recruitment pattern of motor primitives is determined by the predicted movement error of an upcoming movement (prospective error). To validate this idea, we perform a behavioural experiment to examine the model's novel prediction: after experiencing an environment in which the movement error is more easily predictable, subsequent motor learning should become faster. The experimental results support our prediction, suggesting that the prospective error might be encoded in the motor primitives. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this model has a strong explanatory power to reproduce a wide variety of motor-learning-related phenomena that have been separately explained by different computational models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology