Adaptation of aimed arm movements to sensorimotor discordance: evidence for direction-independent gain control

Behav Brain Res. 1992 Oct 31;51(1):41-50. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(05)80310-9.


Human subjects pointed, without sight of their arm, at visual targets presented on a mirror-viewed monitor screen. During the adaptation period of each experiment, the position of the pointing fingertip was continuously recorded and displayed on the screen along with the targets. This visual feedback was not always veridical; rather, it was manipulated to require a gradual modification of the pointing response gain throughout the adaptation period. No visual feedback at all was available during the pre- and postadaptation periods of each experiment. The adaptive effect was determined as difference between pre- and postadaptation gains. In Expt. A, visual feedback during the adaptation period prescribed a gradual reduction of the horizontal response gain without specifying the gain for other directions; the adaptive effect was found to generalize uniformly to all movement directions. Expt. B1 prescribed a reduction of the horizontal, and an unchanged vertical gain component: in spite of this differential requirement, the adaptive effect was again uniform for all directions. Expt. B2 prescribed a reduction of the horizontal, and an increase of the vertical gain component: we found a reduced gain for all directions, with a mild direction-dependence in the magnitude of the adaptive effect. In a modified version of Expt. B2, no intermanual transfer of the adaptive effect was found. Expt. C1-3 prescribed gain reduction for target directions within 15, 30, or 45 degrees around the horizontal, and gain increase for all other directions: we found little or no adaptive effects under such conditions. From the above findings, we concluded that the adapted system controls movement gain largely independent of movement direction. This mechanism responds readily to requirements for gain reduction, but not gain increase. No evidence for an organization of the arm motor system in direction-selective channels was found, in contrast to findings on the saccadic control system in a paradigm similar to our Expt. A8. This discrepancy supports the view that arm and eye movements are controlled by distinct mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*