Energy exchanges at contact events guide sensorimotor integration

Ali Farshchian, Alessandra Sciutti, Assaf Pressman, Ilana Nisky, Ferdinando A. Mussa-Ivaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The brain must consider the arm’s inertia to predict the arm’s movements elicited by commands impressed upon the muscles. Here, we present evidence suggesting that the integration of sensory information leading to the representation of the arm’s inertia does not take place continuously in time but only at discrete transient events, in which kinetic energy is exchanged between the arm and the environment. We used a visuomotor delay to induce cross-modal variations in state feedback and uncovered that the difference between visual and proprioceptive velocity estimations at isolated collision events was compensated by a change in the representation of arm inertia. The compensation maintained an invariant estimate across modalities of the expected energy exchange with the environment. This invariance captures different types of dysmetria observed across individuals following prolonged exposure to a fixed intermodal temporal perturbation and provides a new interpretation for cerebellar ataxia.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere32587
StatePublished - 29 May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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