Dissociable use-dependent processes for volitional goal-directed reaching

Proc Biol Sci. 2022 Apr 27;289(1973):20220415. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0415. Epub 2022 Apr 27.


Repetition of specific movement biases subsequent actions towards the practiced movement, a phenomenon known as use-dependent learning (UDL). Recent experiments that impose strict constraints on planning time have revealed two sources of use-dependent biases, one arising from dynamic changes occurring during motor planning and another reflecting a stable shift in motor execution. Here, we used a distributional analysis to examine the contribution of these biases in reaching. To create the conditions for UDL, the target appeared at a designated 'frequent' location on most trials, and at one of six 'rare' locations on other trials. Strikingly, the heading angles were bimodally distributed, with peaks at both frequent and rare target locations. Despite having no constraints on planning time, participants exhibited a robust bias towards the frequent target when movements were self-initiated quickly, the signature of a planning bias; notably, the peak near the rare target was shifted in the frequently practiced direction, the signature of an execution bias. Furthermore, these execution biases were not only replicated in a delayed-response task but were also insensitive to reward. Taken together, these results extend our understanding of how volitional movements are influenced by recent experience.

Keywords: action execution; action selection; reinforcement learning; reward; use-dependent learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance* / physiology
  • Reward

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.6078/D1MX4P