Motor and sensory disturbances induced by sensorimotor conflicts during passive and active movements in healthy participants

PLoS One. 2018 Aug 29;13(8):e0203206. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203206. eCollection 2018.


Sensorimotor conflict induces both sensory and motor disturbances, but the specific factors playing a role in conflict-induced disturbances are still misunderstood. For example, we still do not know the role played by motor intention (vs. a purely visuo-proprioceptive conflict) or the influence of specific types of incongruent visual feedback. The objective of this study was threefold: 1- to compare the effect of passive and active movement during sensorimotor conflict on sensory disturbances measured with a questionnaire; 2- to compare the effect of three incongruent visual feedback conditions on sensory and motor (mediolateral drift and movement amplitude) disturbances; 3- to test whether conflict-induced sensory and motor disturbances were stable over time. 20 healthy participants realized active or passive cyclic upper limb movements while viewing either congruent or incongruent visual feedback about their movement using a robotized exoskeleton combined with 2D virtual reality interface. First, results showed that in condition of conflict, participants reported higher sensory disturbances during active movements compared to passive movements (p = 0.034), suggesting that the efference copy reinforces the conflict between vision and proprioception. Second, the three conditions of incongruence in the active condition induced similar sensory (all p>0.45) and motor disturbances (medio-lateral drift: all p>0.59 and amplitude: all p>0.25), suggesting that conflict induced motor disturbances could be related more to the observation of another movement rather than to a detection of conflict between motor intention and sensory feedback. Finally, both sensory and motor disturbances were stable over time (all ICCs between 0.76 and 0.87), demonstrating low variability within participants. Overall, our results suggest that the efference copy is more involved in sensory disturbances than in motor disturbances, suggesting that they might rely on independent processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Exoskeleton Device
  • Feedback, Sensory*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Proprioception
  • Psychophysics
  • Upper Extremity
  • Virtual Reality
  • Visual Perception*

Grant support

We thank Nicolas Robitaille, eng. Ph.D. for his help in the development of the task and technical support. This study was supported by a Discovery grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC, RGPIN 355896-2012, C. Brun was supported by fellowships from Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et en intégration sociale (CIRRIS,, from Centre thématique de recherche en neurosciences (CTRN,, from the Faculté de médecine de l’Université Laval ( and from the Fonds de Recherche Québec – Nature et Technologies (FRQNT, C. Mercier is supported by a salary award from Fonds de recherche Québec-Santé (FRQS, no. 29251,