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Experimental Brain Research

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DOI: 10.1007/s00221-022-06515-3


We examined a key aspect of sensorimotor skill: the capability to correct performance errors that arise mid-movement. Participants grasped the handle of a robot that imposed a nominal viscous resistance to hand movement. They watched a target move pseudo-randomly just above the horizontal plane of hand motion and initiated quick interception movements when cued. On some trials, the robot's viscosity or the target's speed changed without warning coincident with the GO cue. We fit a sum-of-Gaussians model to mechanical power measured at the handle to determine the number, magnitude, and relative timing of submovements occurring in each interception attempt. When a single submovement successfully intercepted the target, capture times averaged 410 ms. Sometimes, two or more submovements were required. Initial error corrections typically occurred before feedback could indicate the target had been captured or missed. Error corrections occurred sooner after movement onset in response to mechanical viscosity increases (at 154 ms) than to unprovoked errors on control trials (215 ms). Corrections occurred later (272 ms) in response to viscosity decreases. The latency of corrections for target speed changes did not differ from those in control trials. Remarkably, these early error corrections accommodated the altered testing conditions; speed/viscosity increases elicited more vigorous corrections than in control trials with unprovoked errors; speed/viscosity decreases elicited less vigorous corrections. These results suggest that the brain monitors and predicts the outcome of evolving movements, rapidly infers causes of mid-movement errors, and plans and executes corrections—all within 300 ms of movement onset.


Accepted version. Experimental Brain Research, Vol. 241 (2023): 231-247. DOI. © 2023 Springer. Used with permission.

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