Research Focus

We possess a remarkable ability to learn new motor skills and retain memories for those skills throughout life, such as riding a bicycle. The ease with which we perform these skills belies their overwhelming computational complexity. My research focuses on novel movement strategies arise, what are the functional consequences of their interaction with learning, and what are their respective neural systems? Insight into these processes may be gained by considering different models for action-selection, such as model-free and model-based reinforcement learning, and combining them with models for sensorimotor adaptation. Another area of my research concerns the role of feedback in motor learning. Motor tasks offer a unique situation where learning may be dependent on both a fine measure of movement performance, in the form of sensory-prediction errors, and a coarse measure of task performance, in the form of reward-prediction errors. Both error-feedback mechanisms appear to follow similar computational principles for learning. However, there are striking differences in their respective neural regions, neurotransmitters, and neural architectures, suggesting that each system provides a unique contribution to learning. Insight into how the motor system coordinates learning by these very different systems can be gained by examining feedback-dependent learning deficits in neurological populations with damage to the cerebellum, basal ganglia, medial temporal lobe, and prefrontal cortex. Ultimately, we hope this research can lead to the development of optimal training protocols that can guide learning towards different, but still functioning learning mechanisms following stroke or disease.


  • June 2018
  • New Journal Club Review
  • Hutter SA and Wilson AI. (2018). A novel role for the hippocampus in category learning. J. Neurosci, in press.

  • April 2018
  • New Preprints
  • Hutter SA and Taylor JA. (2018). Relative sensitivity of explicit re-aiming and implicit motor adaptation. BioRxiv.
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  • McDougle SD and Taylor JA. (2018). Dissociable roles for working memory in sensorimotor learning. BioRxiv.
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  • New Publication
  • Parvin D, McDougle SD, Taylor JA, and Ivry RB. (2018). Credit assignment in a motor decision making task is influenced by agency and not sensorimotor prediction errors. J. Neurosci. In press.