Somatosensory Cortex Plays an Essential Role in Forelimb Motor Adaptation in Mice

Neuron. 2017 Mar 22;93(6):1493-1503.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.02.049.


Our motor outputs are constantly re-calibrated to adapt to systematic perturbations. This motor adaptation is thought to depend on the ability to form a memory of a systematic perturbation, often called an internal model. However, the mechanisms underlying the formation, storage, and expression of such models remain unknown. Here, we developed a mouse model to study forelimb adaptation to force field perturbations. We found that temporally precise photoinhibition of somatosensory cortex (S1) applied concurrently with the force field abolished the ability to update subsequent motor commands needed to reduce motor errors. This S1 photoinhibition did not impair basic motor patterns, post-perturbation completion of the action, or their performance in a reward-based learning task. Moreover, S1 photoinhibition after partial adaptation blocked further adaptation, but did not affect the expression of already-adapted motor commands. Thus, S1 is critically involved in updating the memory about the perturbation that is essential for forelimb motor adaptation.

Keywords: force field adaptation; motor adaptation; mouse; optogenetics; primary somatosensory cortex; sensorimotor learning; sensory prediction error.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*