Adaptation to visual feedback delays in manual tracking: evidence against the Smith Predictor model of human visually guided action

Exp Brain Res. 2006 Jun;172(1):77-84. doi: 10.1007/s00221-005-0306-5. Epub 2006 Jan 20.


We report adaptation to delayed visual feedback during a manual tracking task, testing the nature of the adapted responses with frequency analysis. Two groups of seven subjects tracked unpredictable targets using a handheld joystick, alternating between pursuit and compensatory display trials. The test group then practised for 1 h per day with a visual feedback delay of 300 ms; the control group practice under normal undelayed conditions. Introduction of the visual feedback delay significantly disrupted tracking performance, with an increase in errors and a reduction in frequency of corrective movements. Subjects showed clear evidence of adaptation during the 5 day experiment, decreasing tracking error and decreasing the mean power of intermittent corrections. However, there was no evidence of a return towards the initial high frequency intermittent tracking. We suggest that the adaptation observed in this study reflects the modification of predictive feedforward actions, but that these data do not support control based on Smith Prediction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Time Factors