Adaptation to visuomotor transformations: consolidation, interference, and forgetting

J Neurosci. 2005 Jan 12;25(2):473-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4218-04.2005.


The paradigm task A-->task B-->task A, which varies the time interval between task A and task B, has been used extensively to investigate the consolidation of motor memory. Consolidation is defined as resistance to retrograde interference (interference by task B on initial learning of task A). Consolidation has been demonstrated for simple skills, motor sequencing, and learning of force fields. In contrast, evidence to date suggests that visuomotor learning does not consolidate. We have shown previously that adaptation to a 30 degrees screen-cursor rotation is faster and more complete on relearning 24 hr later. This improvement is prevented if a 30 degrees counter-rotation is learned 5 min after the original rotation. Here, we sought to identify conditions under which rotation learning becomes resistant to interference by a counter-rotation. In experiment 1, we found that interference persists even when the counter-rotation is learned 24 hr after the initial rotation. In experiment 2, we removed potential anterograde interference (interference by task B on relearning of task A) by introducing washout blocks before all of the learning blocks. In contrast to experiment 1, we found resistance to interference (i.e., consolidation) when the counter-rotation was learned after 24 hr but not after 5 min. In experiment 3, we doubled the amount of initial rotation learning and found resistance to interference even after 5 min. Our results suggest that persistent interference is attributable to anterograde effects on memory retrieval. When anterograde effects are removed, rotation learning consolidates both over time and with increased initial training.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Visual Perception / physiology