Reward-Based Improvements in Motor Control Are Driven by Multiple Error-Reducing Mechanisms

Codol, Olivier; Holland, Peter; Manohar, Sanjay G. and Galea, Joseph M.. 2020. Reward-Based Improvements in Motor Control Are Driven by Multiple Error-Reducing Mechanisms. Journal of Neuroscience, 40(18), pp. 3604-3620. ISSN 0270-6474 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Reward has a remarkable ability to invigorate motor behavior, enabling individuals to select and execute actions with greater precision and speed. However, if reward is to be exploited in applied settings, such as rehabilitation, a thorough understanding of its underlying mechanisms is required. In a series of experiments, we first demonstrate that reward simultaneously improves the selection and execution components of a reaching movement. Specifically, reward promoted the selection of the correct action in the presence of distractors, while also improving execution through increased speed and maintenance of accuracy. These results led to a shift in the speed-accuracy functions for both selection and execution. In addition, punishment had a similar impact on action selection and execution, although it enhanced execution performance across all trials within a block, that is, its impact was noncontingent to trial value. Although the reward-driven enhancement of movement execution has been proposed to occur through enhanced feedback control, an untested possibility is that it is also driven by increased arm stiffness, an energy-consuming process that enhances limb stability. Computational analysis revealed that reward led to both an increase in feedback correction in the middle of the movement and a reduction in motor noise near the target. In line with our hypothesis, we provide novel evidence that this noise reduction is driven by a reward-dependent increase in arm stiffness. Therefore, reward drives multiple error-reduction mechanisms which enable individuals to invigorate motor performance without compromising accuracy.

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feedback control; stiffness; reaching; reinforcement; action selection; action execution

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11 March 2020Accepted
31 March 2020Published Online
29 April 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2024 14:52

Last Modified:

12 Jun 2024 14:52

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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