Usually, motor memories are created in the lab by perturbing the trajectory of the hand (e.g. force field perturbation Shadmerh and Mussa-Ivaldi, 1994) or the trajectory of the cursor (e.g. visuomotor rotation Krakauer et al. 2005). Initially, these perturbations lead to large errors that are reduced over the course of trials through learning. This learning depends on an error-dependent process (as discussed in Smith et al. 2006) that takes into account the error on one trial in order to update the motor commands for the next movements. Unfortunately, the resulting motor memories quickly fade away once the perturbation disappears. This forgetting of motor memories has been a major obstacle for the translation of motor learning paradigms to rehabilitation therapies because the beneficial effects of motor training do not last long. In a new paper, Shmuelof and colleagues present a novel technique that makes motor memories resistant to forgetting and opens up new avenues for the translation of motor learning paradigms to rehabilitation.
written by Jean-Jacques Orban de Xivry
Scientist in the motor control field.