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Logo of nihpaAbout Author manuscriptsSubmit a manuscriptNIH Public Access; Author Manuscript; Accepted for publication in peer reviewed journal;
Nat Neurosci. Author manuscript; available in PMC Sep 24, 2008.
Published in final edited form as:
Published online May 13, 2007. doi:  10.1038/nn1901
PMCID: PMC2551734
NIHMSID: NIHMS66886

The dynamics of memory as a consequence of optimal adaptation to a changing body

Abstract

The response of the motor apparatus to neural commands varies due to many causes. Fast timescale disturbances occur when muscles fatigue. Disturbances with a slow timescale occur when muscles are damaged, or limb dynamics change due to development. To maintain performance, motor commands need to adapt. Computing the best adaptation in response to any performance error results in a credit assignment problem: what timescale is responsible for this disturbance? Here we show that a Bayesian solution to this problem accounts for numerous behaviors of animals during both short and long-term training. Our analysis focuses on characteristics of the oculomotor system during learning, including effects of time passage. However, we suggest that learning and memory in other paradigms, such as reach adaptation, the adaptation of visual neurons, and retrieval of declarative memories, largely follow similar rules.

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