Motor learning without moving: Proprioceptive and predictive hand localization after passive visuoproprioceptive discrepancy training

PLoS One. 2019 Aug 29;14(8):e0221861. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221861. eCollection 2019.


An accurate estimate of limb position is necessary for movement planning, before and after motor learning. Where we localize our unseen hand after a reach depends on felt hand position, or proprioception, but in studies and theories on motor adaptation this is quite often neglected in favour of predicted sensory consequences based on efference copies of motor commands. Both sources of information should contribute, so here we set out to further investigate how much of hand localization depends on proprioception and how much on predicted sensory consequences. We use a training paradigm combining robot controlled hand movements with rotated visual feedback that eliminates the possibility to update predicted sensory consequences ('exposure training'), but still recalibrates proprioception, as well as a classic training paradigm with self-generated movements in another set of participants. After each kind of training we measure participants' hand location estimates based on both efference-based predictions and afferent proprioceptive signals with self-generated hand movements ('active localization') as well as based on proprioception only with robot-generated movements ('passive localization'). In the exposure training group, we find indistinguishable shifts in passive and active hand localization, but after classic training, active localization shifts more than passive, indicating a contribution from updated predicted sensory consequences. Both changes in open-loop reaches and hand localization are only slightly smaller after exposure training as compared to after classic training, confirming that proprioception plays a large role in estimating limb position and in planning movements, even after adaptation. (data:, preprint:

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Proprioception*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology NSERC Operating grant (DYPH) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) under grant no. HA 6861/2-1 (BMtH). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.