Learning a visuomotor rotation: simultaneous visual and proprioceptive information is crucial for visuomotor remapping

Exp Brain Res. 2010 May;203(1):75-87. doi: 10.1007/s00221-010-2209-3. Epub 2010 Mar 17.


Visuomotor adaptation is mediated by errors between intended and sensory-detected arm positions. However, it is not clear whether visual-based errors that are shown during the course of motion lead to qualitatively different or more efficient adaptation than errors shown after movement. For instance, continuous visual feedback mediates online error corrections, which may facilitate or inhibit the adaptation process. We addressed this question by manipulating the timing of visual error information and task instructions during a visuomotor adaptation task. Subjects were exposed to a visuomotor rotation, during which they received continuous visual feedback (CF) of hand position with instructions to correct or not correct online errors, or knowledge-of-results (KR), provided as a static hand-path at the end of each trial. Our results showed that all groups improved performance with practice, and that online error corrections were inconsequential to the adaptation process. However, in contrast to the CF groups, the KR group showed relatively small reductions in mean error with practice, increased inter-trial variability during rotation exposure, and more limited generalization across target distances and workspace. Further, although the KR group showed improved performance with practice, after-effects were minimal when the rotation was removed. These findings suggest that simultaneous visual and proprioceptive information is critical in altering neural representations of visuomotor maps, although delayed error information may elicit compensatory strategies to offset perturbations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Proprioception*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rotation
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult