Neural representations of sensorimotor memory-and digit position-based load force adjustments before the onset of dexterous object manipulation

Michelle Marneweck, Deborah A. Barany, Marco Santello, Scott T. Grafton

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Anticipatory load forces for dexterous object manipulation in humans are modulated based on visual object property cues, sensorimotor memories of previous experiences with the object, and, when digit positioning varies from trial to trial, the integrating of this sensed variability with force modulation. Studies of the neural representations encoding these anticipatory mechanisms have not considered these mechanisms separately from each other or from feedback mechanisms emerging after lift onset. Here, representational similarity analyses of fMRI data were used to identify neural representations of sensorimotor memories and the sensing and integration of digit position. Cortical activity and movement kinematics were measured as 20 human subjects (11 women) minimized tilt of a symmetrically shaped object with a concealed asymmetric center of mass (CoM, left and right sided). This task required generating compensatory torques inoppositedirections, which, without helpful visual CoMcues, reliedprimarilyonsensorimotor memories of thesameobject and CoM. Digit position was constrained or unconstrained, the latter of which required modulating forces beyond what can be recalled from sensorimotor memories to compensate for digit position variability. Ventral premotor (PMv), somatosensory, and cerebellar lobule regions (CrusII, VIIIa) were sensitive to anticipatory behaviors that reflect sensorimotor memory content, as shown by larger voxel pattern differences for unmatched than matched CoM conditions. Cerebellar lobule I–IV, Broca area 44, and PMv showed greater voxel pattern differences for unconstrained than constrained grasping, which suggests their sensitivity to monitor the online coincidence of planned and actual digit positions and correct for a mismatch by force modulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4724-4737
Number of pages14
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticipatory motor control
  • Dexterous object manipulation
  • Feedforward motor control
  • Representational similarity analyses
  • Sensorimotor memories

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