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A memory of errors in sensorimotor learning

Science  14 Aug 2014:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1253138

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Abstract

The current view of motor learning suggests that when we revisit a task, the brain recalls the motor commands it previously learned. In this view, motor memory is a memory of motor commands, acquired through trial-and-error and reinforcement. Here, we show that the brain controls how much it is willing to learn from the current error through a principled mechanism that depends on the history of past errors. This suggests that the brain stores a previously unknown form of memory, a memory of errors. A mathematical formulation of this idea provides insights into a host of puzzling experimental data, including savings and meta-learning, demonstrating that when we are better at a motor task, it is partly because the brain recognizes the errors it experienced before.

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