The neural basis for learning of simple motor skills

Science  04 Nov 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4879, pp. 728-735
DOI: 10.1126/science.3055293


The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is a simple movement that has been used to investigate the neural basis for motor learning in monkeys. The function of the VOR is to stabilize retinal images by generating smooth eye movements that are equal and opposite to each head movement. Learning occurs whenever image motion occurs persistently during head turns; as a result image stability is gradually restored. A hypothesis is proposed in which the output from the cerebellar cortex of the flocculus guides learning; the locus of learning is in the brain stem, in VOR pathways that are under inhibitory control from the flocculus. Other, parallel VOR pathways do not receive inputs from the flocculus and are not subject to learning. Similarities among the VOR and other motor systems suggest some organizing principles that may apply in many forms of motor learning.

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