A hierarchical neural-network model for control and learning of voluntary movement

Biol Cybern. 1987;57(3):169-85. doi: 10.1007/BF00364149.


In order to control voluntary movements, the central nervous system (CNS) must solve the following three computational problems at different levels: the determination of a desired trajectory in the visual coordinates, the transformation of its coordinates to the body coordinates and the generation of motor command. Based on physiological knowledge and previous models, we propose a hierarchical neural network model which accounts for the generation of motor command. In our model the association cortex provides the motor cortex with the desired trajectory in the body coordinates, where the motor command is then calculated by means of long-loop sensory feedback. Within the spinocerebellum--magnocellular red nucleus system, an internal neural model of the dynamics of the musculoskeletal system is acquired with practice, because of the heterosynaptic plasticity, while monitoring the motor command and the results of movement. Internal feedback control with this dynamical model updates the motor command by predicting a possible error of movement. Within the cerebrocerebellum--parvocellular red nucleus system, an internal neural model of the inverse-dynamics of the musculo-skeletal system is acquired while monitoring the desired trajectory and the motor command. The inverse-dynamics model substitutes for other brain regions in the complex computation of the motor command. The dynamics and the inverse-dynamics models are realized by a parallel distributed neural network, which comprises many sub-systems computing various nonlinear transformations of input signals and a neuron with heterosynaptic plasticity (that is, changes of synaptic weights are assumed proportional to a product of two kinds of synaptic inputs). Control and learning performance of the model was investigated by computer simulation, in which a robotic manipulator was used as a controlled system, with the following results: (1) Both the dynamics and the inverse-dynamics models were acquired during control of movements. (2) As motor learning proceeded, the inverse-dynamics model gradually took the place of external feedback as the main controller. Concomitantly, overall control performance became much better. (3) Once the neural network model learned to control some movement, it could control quite different and faster movements. (4) The neural network model worked well even when only very limited information about the fundamental dynamical structure of the controlled system was available.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Learning*
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Movement
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Synapses / physiology