Representing delayed force feedback as a combination of current and delayed states

J Neurophysiol. 2017 Oct 1;118(4):2110-2131. doi: 10.1152/jn.00347.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


To adapt to deterministic force perturbations that depend on the current state of the hand, internal representations are formed to capture the relationships between forces experienced and motion. However, information from multiple modalities travels at different rates, resulting in intermodal delays that require compensation for these internal representations to develop. To understand how these delays are represented by the brain, we presented participants with delayed velocity-dependent force fields, i.e., forces that depend on hand velocity either 70 or 100 ms beforehand. We probed the internal representation of these delayed forces by examining the forces the participants applied to cope with the perturbations. The findings showed that for both delayed forces, the best model of internal representation consisted of a delayed velocity and current position and velocity. We show that participants relied initially on the current state, but with adaptation, the contribution of the delayed representation to adaptation increased. After adaptation, when the participants were asked to make movements with a higher velocity for which they had not previously experienced with the delayed force field, they applied forces that were consistent with current position and velocity as well as delayed velocity representations. This suggests that the sensorimotor system represents delayed force feedback using current and delayed state information and that it uses this representation when generalizing to faster movements.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The brain compensates for forces in the body and the environment to control movements, but it is unclear how it does so given the inherent delays in information transmission and processing. We examined how participants cope with delayed forces that depend on their arm velocity 70 or 100 ms beforehand. After adaptation, participants applied opposing forces that revealed a partially correct representation of the perturbation using the current and the delayed information.

Keywords: adaptation; delay; force field; motor primitives; reaching.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Feedback, Physiological*
  • Female
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology