Sensory error signals have long been proposed to act as instructive signals to guide motor learning. Here we have exploited the temporal specificity of learning in smooth pursuit eye movements and the well-defined anatomical structure of the neural circuit for pursuit to identify a part of sensory cortex that provides instructive signals for motor learning in monkeys. We show that electrical microstimulation in the motion-sensitive middle temporal area (MT) of extrastriate visual cortex instructs learning in smooth eye movements in a way that closely mimics the learning instructed by real visual motion. We conclude that MT provides instructive signals for motor learning in smooth pursuit eye movements under natural conditions, suggesting a similar role for sensory cortices in many kinds of learned behaviors.
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Efficient sensory cortical coding optimizes pursuit eye movements
Nature Communications Open Access 09 September 2016
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We thank M. Brainard, D. Copenhagen, M. Mauk, W. Newsome, M. Orger, R. Ramachandran, P. Sabes and D. Bodznick for helpful discussion; L. Bocskai, D. Kleinhesselink, K. McGary, S. Ruffner and D. Wolfgang-Kimball for excellent technical support and S. Tokiyama, E. Montgomery, B. St. Amant and K. MacLeod for superb animal care. This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, US National Institutes of Health grant NS34835, and an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists fellowship to M.R.C.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Supplementary Fig. 1
Quantitative analysis of possible correlations between the amplitude of the learned eye movement and response properties of neurons at each stimulation site. (PDF 199 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 2
Distribution of learned eye velocities across experiments or trials when learning was instructed by MT stimulation without or with target stabilization. (PDF 836 kb)
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Carey, M., Medina, J. & Lisberger, S. Instructive signals for motor learning from visual cortical area MT. Nat Neurosci 8, 813–819 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1470
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