Neural changes when actions change: Adaptation of strong and weak expectations



Repeated experiences with an event create the expectation that subsequent events will expose an analog structure. These spontaneous expectations rely on an internal model of the event that results from learning. But what happens when events change? Do experience-based internal models get adapted instantaneously, or is model adaptation a function of the solidity of, i.e., familiarity with, the corresponding internal model? The present fMRI study investigated the effects of model solidity on model adaptation in an action observation paradigm. Subjects were made acquainted with a set of action movies that displayed an altered script when encountered again in the scanning session. We found model adaptation to result in an attenuation of the premotor-parietal network for action observation. Model solidity was found to modulate activation in the parahippocampal gyrus and the anterior cerebellar lobules, where increased solidity correlated with activity increase. Finally, the comparison between early and late stages of learning indicated an effect of model solidity on adaptation rate. This contrast revealed the involvement of a fronto-mesial network of Brodmann area 10 and the ACC in those states of learning that were signified by high model solidity, no matter if the memorized original or the altered action model was the more solid component. Findings suggest that the revision of an internal model is dependent on its familiarity. Unwarranted adaptations, but also perseverations may thus be prevented. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.