- The premotor and primary motor cortices encoded visual error in reaching.
- Stimulation to the motor cortices induced trial-by-trial increases in reach errors.
- The error increased opposite to the preferred direction of errors at each location.
- The after-effect of stimulation subsided gradually as in ordinary adaptation.
In the current study, Inoue and colleagues were successful for the first time in inducing trial-by-trial "adaptation" in voluntary arm movements by artificial electrical stimulation of the premotor cortex (PM) or the primary motor cortex (M1). When the stimulation was terminated, the error (after-effect) did not decrease at once but recovered with practice, as observed after typical adaptation. The direction of the increase in the error was opposite to the "preferred" error direction of the neuron recorded in the stimulation site. The results clearly show that the motor cortices submit error signals that drive adaptation in voluntary arm movements, as predicted by the feedback error learning scheme.
The novel technique to artificially "improve" a motor skill by a small amount of stimulation would be applicable to performance enhancement in athletes as well as for restoring motor control in neurological patients.