Spatiotemporal dissociation of fMRI activity in the caudate nucleus underlies human de novo motor skill learning

Yera Choia, Emily Yunha Shina, Sungshin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Motor skill learning involves a complex process of generating novel movement patterns guided by evaluative feedback, such as a reward. Previous literature has suggested anteroposteriorly separated circuits in the striatum to be implicated in early goaldirected and later automatic stages of motor skill learning, respectively. However, the involvement of these circuits has not been well elucidated in human de novo motor skill learning, which requires learning arbitrary action-outcome associations and valuebased action selection. To investigate this issue, we conducted a human functional MRI (fMRI) experiment in which participants learned to control a computer cursor by manipulating their right fingers. We discovered a double dissociation of fMRI activity in the anterior and posterior caudate nucleus, which was associated with performance in the early and late learning stages. Moreover, cognitive and sensorimotor cortico-caudate interactions predicted individual learning performance. Our results suggest parallel corticocaudate networks operating in different stages of human de novo motor skill learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23886-23897
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - 2020 Sep 22


  • Caudate nucleus
  • Cortico-caudate interactions
  • De novo motor skill learning
  • FMRI
  • Spatiotemporal dissociation


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