A memory of errors in sensorimotor learning.

David J. Herzfeld, Pavan A. Vaswani, Mollie K. Marko, Reza Shadmehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The current view of motor learning suggests that when we revisit a task, the brain recalls the motor commands it previously learned. In this view, motor memory is a memory of motor commands, acquired through trial-and-error and reinforcement. Here we show that the brain controls how much it is willing to learn from the current error through a principled mechanism that depends on the history of past errors. This suggests that the brain stores a previously unknown form of memory, a memory of errors. A mathematical formulation of this idea provides insights into a host of puzzling experimental data, including savings and meta-learning, demonstrating that when we are better at a motor task, it is partly because the brain recognizes the errors it experienced before.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1349-1353
Number of pages5
Issue number6202
StatePublished - 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Herzfeld, D. J., Vaswani, P. A., Marko, M. K., & Shadmehr, R. (2014). A memory of errors in sensorimotor learning. Science, 345(6202), 1349-1353. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1253138