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Neuron. 2005 Jan 6;45(1):157-67.

The representation of time for motor learning.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology and W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


We have identified factors that control precise motor timing by studying learning in smooth pursuit eye movements. Monkeys tracked a target that moved horizontally for a fixed time interval before changing direction through the addition of a vertical component of motion. After repeated presentations of the same target trajectory, infrequent probe trials of purely horizontal target motion evoked a vertical eye movement around the time when the change in target direction would have occurred. The pursuit system timed the vertical eye movement by keeping track of the duration of horizontal target motion and by measuring the distance the target traveled before changing direction, but not by learning the position in space where the target changed direction. We conclude that high temporal precision in motor output relies on multiple signals whose contributions to timing vary according to task requirements.

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