Reward abundance interferes with error-based learning in a visuomotor adaptation task
Number of pages
SourcePLoS One, 13, 3, (2018), article e0193002
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
The brain rapidly adapts reaching movements to changing circumstances by using visual feedback about errors. Providing reward in addition to error feedback facilitates the adaptation but the underlying mechanism is unknown. Here, we investigate whether the proportion of trials rewarded (the 'reward abundance') influences how much participants adapt to their errors. We used a 3D multi-target pointing task in which reward alone is insufficient for motor adaptation. Participants (N = 423) performed the pointing task with feedback based on a shifted hand-position. On a proportion of trials we gave them rewarding feedback that their hand hit the target. Half of the participants only received this reward feedback. The other half also received feedback about endpoint errors. In different groups, we varied the proportion of trials that was rewarded. As expected, participants who received feedback about their errors did adapt, but participants who only received reward-feedback did not. Critically, participants who received abundant rewards adapted less to their errors than participants who received less reward. Thus, reward abundance negatively influences how much participants learn from their errors. Probably participants used a mechanism that relied more on the reward feedback when the reward was abundant. Because participants could not adapt to the reward, this interfered with adaptation to errors.
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