A unified internal model theory to resolve the paradox of active versus passive self-motion sensation

Jean Laurens, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brainstem and cerebellar neurons implement an internal model to accurately estimate self-motion during externally generated (‘passive’) movements. However, these neurons show reduced responses during self-generated (‘active’) movements, indicating that predicted sensory consequences of motor commands cancel sensory signals. Remarkably, the computational processes underlying sensory prediction during active motion and their relationship to internal model computations during passive movements remain unknown. We construct a Kalman filter that incorporates motor commands into a previously established model of optimal passive self-motion estimation. The simulated sensory error and feedback signals match experimentally measured neuronal responses during active and passive head and trunk rotations and translations. We conclude that a single sensory internal model can combine motor commands with vestibular and proprioceptive signals optimally. Thus, although neurons carrying sensory prediction error or feedback signals show attenuated modulation, the sensory cues and internal model are both engaged and critically important for accurate self-motion estimation during active head movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere28074
StatePublished - Oct 18 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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