The Implementation of Predictions During Sequencing

M. Molinari, M. Masciullo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Optimal control mechanisms require prediction capabilities. If one cannot predict the consequences of a motor act or behavior, one will continually collide with walls or become a social pariah. “Looking into the future” is thus one of the most important prerequisites for smooth movements and social interactions. To achieve this goal, the brain must constantly predict future events. This principle applies to all domains of information processing, including motor and cognitive control, as well as the development of decision-making skills, theory of mind, and virtually all cognitive processes. Sequencing is suggested to support the predictive capacity of the brain. To recognize that events are related, the brain must discover links among them in the spatiotemporal domain. To achieve this, the brain must often hold one event in working memory and compare it to a second one, and the characteristics of the two must be compared and correctly placed in space and time. Among the different brain structures involved in sequencing, the cerebellum has been proposed to have a central function. We have suggested that the operational mode of the cerebellum is based on “sequence detection” and that this process is crucial for prediction. Patterns of temporally or spatially structured events are conveyed to the cerebellum via the pontine nuclei and compared with actual ones conveyed through the climbing fibers olivary inputs. Through this interaction, data on previously encountered sequences can be obtained and used to generate internal models from which predictions can be made. This mechanism would allow the cerebellum not only to recognize sequences but also to detect sequence violations. Cerebellar pattern detection and prediction would thus be a means to allow feedforward control based on anticipation. We will argue that cerebellar sequencing allows implementation of prediction by setting the correct excitatory levels in defined brain areas to implement the adaptive response for a given pattern of stimuli that embeds sufficient information to be recognized as a previously encountered template. Here, we will discuss results from human and animal studies and correlate them with the present understanding of cerebellar function in cognition and behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number439
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Oct 9 2019


  • cognition
  • emotions
  • forward internal model
  • prediction error
  • sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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