Characteristics of Implicit Sensorimotor Adaptation Revealed by Task-irrelevant Clamped Feedback

J Cogn Neurosci. 2017 Jun;29(6):1061-1074. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01108. Epub 2017 Feb 14.


Sensorimotor adaptation occurs when there is a discrepancy between the expected and actual sensory consequences of a movement. This learning can be precisely measured, but its source has been hard to pin down because standard adaptation tasks introduce two potential learning signals: task performance errors and sensory prediction errors. Here we employed a new method that induces sensory prediction errors without task performance errors. This method combines the use of clamped visual feedback that is angularly offset from the target and independent of the direction of motion, along with instructions to ignore this feedback while reaching to targets. Despite these instructions, participants unknowingly showed robust adaptation of their movements. This adaptation was similar to that observed with standard methods, showing sign dependence, local generalization, and cerebellar dependency. Surprisingly, adaptation rate and magnitude were invariant across a large range of offsets. Collectively, our results challenge current models of adaptation and demonstrate that behavior observed in many studies of adaptation reflect the composite effects of task performance and sensory prediction errors.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology*
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Young Adult