A locomotor adaptation including explicit knowledge and removal of postadaptation errors induces complete 24-hour retention

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Aug;110(4):916-25. doi: 10.1152/jn.00770.2012. Epub 2013 Jun 5.


Locomotor patterns are generally very consistent but also contain a high degree of adaptability. Motor adaptation is a short-term type of learning that utilizes this plasticity to alter locomotor behaviors quickly and transiently. In this study, we used a variation of an adaptation paradigm in order to test whether explicit information as well as the removal of the visual error signal after adaptation could improve retention of a newly learned walking pattern 24 h later. On two consecutive days of testing, participants walked on a treadmill while viewing a visual display that showed erroneous feedback of swing times for each leg. Participants were instructed to use this feedback to monitor and adjust swing times so they appeared symmetric within the display. This was achieved by producing a novel interlimb asymmetry between legs. For both legs, we measured adaptation magnitudes and rates and immediate and 24-h retention magnitudes. Participants showed similar adaptation on both days but a faster rate of readaptation on day 2. There was complete retention of adapted swing times on the increasing leg (i.e., no evidence of performance decay over 24 h). Overall, these findings suggest that the inclusion of explicit information and the removal of the visual error signal are effective in inducing full retention of adapted increases in swing time over a moderate (24 h) interval of time.

Keywords: human; motor adaptation; motor learning; savings; walking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Feedback, Sensory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Locomotion*
  • Male
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*