Savings in sensorimotor adaptation without an explicit strategy

J Neurophysiol. 2020 Mar 1;123(3):1180-1192. doi: 10.1152/jn.00524.2019. Epub 2020 Feb 26.


The hallmark of long-term retention of sensorimotor adaptation is a faster relearning when similar perturbations are encountered again. However, what processes underlie this saving effect is in debate. Though motor adaptation is traditionally viewed as a type of procedural learning, its savings has been recently shown to be solely based on a quick recall of explicit adaptation strategy. Here, we showed that adaptation to a novel error-invariant perturbation without an explicit strategy could enable subsequent savings. We further showed that adaptation to gradual perturbations could enable savings, which was supported by enhanced implicit learning. Our study provides supporting evidence that long-term retention of motor adaptation is possible without forming or recalling a cognitive strategy, and the interplay between implicit and explicit learning critically depends on the specifics of learning protocol and available sensory feedback.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Savings in motor learning sometimes refers to faster learning when one encounters the same perturbation again. Previous studies assert that forming a cognitive strategy for countering perturbations is necessary for savings. We used novel experimental techniques to prevent the formation of a cognitive strategy during initial adaptation and found that savings still existed during relearning. Our findings suggest that savings in sensorimotor adaptation do not exclusively depend on forming and recalling an explicit strategy.

Keywords: implicit learning; motor behavior; motor learning; savings; sensorimotor adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Young Adult