Errors make you better: Behavioral, theoretical and neurophysiological determinants of error processing in motor learning


According to Schmidt and Lee's (2011) textbook definition, motor learning involves a set of internal processes associated with practice or experience leading to relatively permanent changes in the capability to perform a motor skill. In this symposium our speakers will examine the role of error processing in motor learning, using behavioral, theoretical and neurophysiological techniques. Motor learning related to the acquisition of a novel motor task/new motor pattern, as well as the adaptation of a well-learned movement to meet changing environmental and/or body demands will be examined. Michael Carter will begin the session by discussing the benefit of providing learners with choice over when they receive error feedback within a practice session. Findings will be extended to establish the window of time when feedback is most optimal for improvements in performance. Denise Henriques will then consider error signals that arise when processing conflicting sensory information (visual and proprioceptive) related to hand position. The processing of sensory feedback received and predicted based on an efference copy will be examined in light of their contribution to motor adaptation. Pierre-Michel Bernier will end the session by addressing the contribution of neocortical regions to the encoding of sensory prediction errors in the context of motor adaptation. The neural bases of target error processing will also be discussed, including how they are modulated by performance-contingent monetary incentives. Together, these 3 speakers will provide insight into the strategic (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) error processing mechanisms underlying motor learning.