Vestibular benefits to task savings in motor adaptation
SourceJournal of Neurophysiology, 110, 6, (2013), pp. 1269-1277
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
Journal of Neurophysiology
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
In everyday life, we seamlessly adapt our movements and consolidate them to multiple behavioral contexts. This natural flexibility seems to be contingent on the presence of movement-related sensorimotor cues and cannot be reproduced when static visual or haptic cues are given to signify different behavioral contexts. So far, only sensorimotor cues that dissociate the sensorimotor plans prior to force field exposure have been successful in learning two opposing perturbations. Here we show that vestibular cues, which are only available during the perturbation, improve the formation and recall of multiple control strategies. We exposed subjects to inertial forces by accelerating them laterally on a vestibular platform. The coupling between reaching movement (forward-backward) and acceleration direction (leftward-rightward) switched every 160 trials, resulting in two opposite force environments. When exposed for a second time to the same environment, with the opposite environment in between, subjects showed retention resulting in an ∼3 times faster adaptation rate compared with the first exposure. Our results suggest that vestibular cues provide contextual information throughout the reach, which is used to facilitate independent learning and recall of multiple motor memories. Vestibular cues provide feedback about the underlying cause of reach errors, thereby disambiguating the various task environments and reducing interference of motor memories.
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