Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The relationship between neural activation during movement training and the plastic changes that survive beyond movement execution is not well understood. Here we ask whether the changes in resting-state functional connectivity observed following motor learning overlap with the brain networks that track movement error during training. Human participants learned to trace an arched trajectory using a computer mouse in an MRI scanner. Motor performance was quantified on each trial as the maximum distance from the prescribed arc. During learning, two brain networks were observed, one showing increased activations for larger movement error, comprising the cerebellum, parietal, visual, somatosensory, and cortical motor areas, and the other being more activated for movements with lower error, comprising the ventral putamen and the OFC. After learning, changes in brain connectivity at rest were found predominantly in areas that had shown increased activation for larger error during task, specifically the cerebellum and its connections with motor, visual, and somatosensory cortex. The findings indicate that, although both errors and accurate movements are important during the active stage of motor learning, the changes in brain activity observed at rest primarily reflect networks that process errors. This suggests that error-related networks are represented in the initial stages of motor memory formation.