Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 224, Issue 2, pp 189–197 | Cite as

The brain uses efference copy information to optimise spatial memory

  • C. C. Gonzalez
  • M. R. Burke
Research Article


Does a motor response to a target improve the subsequent recall of the target position or can we simply use peripheral position information to guide an accurate response? We suggest that a motor plan of the hand can be enhanced with actual motor and efference copy feedback (GoGo trials), which is absent in the passive observation of a stimulus (NoGo trials). To investigate this effect during eye and hand coordination movements, we presented stimuli in two formats (memory guided or visually guided) under three modality conditions (eyes only, hands only (with eyes fixated), or eyes and hand together). We found that during coordinated movements, both the eye and hand response times were facilitated when efference feedback of the movement was provided. Furthermore, both eye and hand movements to remembered locations were significantly more accurate in the GoGo than in the NoGo trial types. These results reveal that an efference copy of a motor plan enhances memory for a location that is not only observed in eye movements, but also translated downstream into a hand movement. These results have significant implications on how we plan, code and guide behavioural responses, and how we can optimise accuracy and timing to a given target.


Eye–hand coordination Short-term memory Go/NoGo Eye movements Hand movements Vision 



We would like to acknowledge Rory Smith and Daisy Sharp who helped in the collection of data for this experiment, and the participants who gave their time to perform the tasks.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine and Health, Institute of Psychological SciencesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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