Control of our movements is apparently facilitated by an adaptive internal model in the cerebellum. It was long thought that this internal model implemented an adaptive inverse model and generated motor commands, but recently many reject that idea in favor of a forward model hypothesis. In theory, the forward model predicts upcoming state during reaching movements so the motor cortex can generate appropriate motor commands. Recent computational models of this process rely on the optimal feedback control (OFC) framework of control theory. OFC is a powerful tool for describing motor control, it does not describe adaptation. Some assume that adaptation of the forward model alone could explain motor adaptation, but this is widely understood to be overly simplistic. However, an adaptive optimal controller is difficult to implement. A reasonable alternative is to allow forward model adaptation to ‘re-tune’ the controller. Our simulations show that, as expected, forward model adaptation alone does not produce optimal trajectories during reaching movements perturbed by force fields. However, they also show that re-optimizing the controller from the forward model can be sub-optimal. This is because, in a system with state correlations or redundancies, accurate prediction requires different information than optimal control. We find that adding noise to the movements that matches noise found in human data is enough to overcome this problem. However, since the state space for control of real movements is far more complex than in our simple simulations, the effects of correlations on re-adaptation of the controller from the forward model cannot be overlooked.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10827-011-0350-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.