Variable practice with lenses improves visuo-motor plasticity

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2001 Oct;12(2):341-52. doi: 10.1016/s0926-6410(01)00077-5.


Novel sensorimotor situations present a unique challenge to an individual's adaptive ability. Using the simple and easily measured paradigm of visual-motor rearrangement created by the use of visual displacement lenses, we sought to determine whether an individual's ability to adapt to visuo-motor discordance could be improved through training. Subjects threw small balls at a stationary target during a 3-week practice regimen involving repeated exposure to one set of lenses in block practice (x 2.0 magnifying lenses), multiple sets of lenses in variable practice (x 2.0 magnifying, x 0.5 minifying and up-down reversing lenses) or sham lenses. At the end of training, adaptation to a novel visuo-motor situation (20-degree right shift lenses) was tested. We found that (1) training with variable practice can increase adaptability to a novel visuo-motor situation, (2) increased adaptability is retained for at least 1 month and is transferable to further novel visuo-motor permutations and (3) variable practice improves performance of a simple motor task even in the undisturbed state. These results have implications for the design of clinical rehabilitation programs and countermeasures to enhance astronaut adaptability, facilitating adaptive transitions between gravitational environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Perceptual Distortion / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*