Neural correlates of reach errors

Jörn Diedrichsen, Yasmin Hashambhoy, Tushar Rane, Reza Shadmehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

427 Scopus citations


Reach errors may be broadly classified into errors arising from unpredictable changes in target location, called target errors, and errors arising from miscalibration of internal models (e.g., when prisms alter visual feedback or a force field alters limb dynamics), called execution errors. Execution errors may be caused by miscalibration of dynamics (e.g., when a force field alters limb dynamics) or by miscalibration of kinematics (e.g., when prisms alter visual feedback). Although all types of errors lead to similar on-line corrections, we found that the motor system showed strong trial-by-trial adaptation in response to random execution errors but not in response to random target errors. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging and a compatible robot to study brain regions involved in processing each kind of error. Both kinematic and dynamic execution errors activated regions along the central and the postcentral sulci and in lobules V, VI, and VIII of the cerebellum, making these areas possible sites of plastic changes in internal models for reaching. Only activity related to kinematic errors extended into parietal area 5. These results are inconsistent with the idea that kinematics and dynamics of reaching are computed in separate neural entities. In contrast, only target errors caused increased activity in the striatum and the posterior superior parietal lobule. The cerebellum and motor cortex were as strongly activated as with execution errors. These findings indicate a neural and behavioral dissociation between errors that lead to switching of behavioral goals and errors that lead to adaptation of internal models of limb dynamics and kinematics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9919-9931
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 26 2005


  • Execution errors
  • Force field
  • Internal models
  • Motor learning
  • Target errors
  • Target jump
  • Visual rotation
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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