In a new study published by Nature Neuroscience, Birmingham Research Fellow Joseph Galea and colleagues, show that reward- and punishment-based feedback (winning money based on task success versus losing money based on task failure) have both positive, but dissociable, effects on motor learning and memory; while punishment led to faster learning, reward caused greater memory retention.

These results suggest that the introduction of focal and well-measured positive and negative feedback in different phases of motor learning could be a simple but highly effective method to optimise motor training and rehabilitation in stroke patients suffering from long-term motor impairments.

The published paper is titled 'The dissociable effects of punishment and reward on motor learning'.