Discordant Tasks and Motor Adjustments Affect Interactions between Adaptations to Altered Kinematics and Dynamics

Motor control and adaptation are multi-determinate processes with complex interactions. This is reflected for example in the ambiguous nature of interactions during sequential adaptation of reaching under kinematics and dynamics perturbations. It has been suggested that perturbations based on the same kinematic parameter interfere. Others posited that opposing motor adjustments underlie interference. Here, we examined the influence of discordances in task and in motor adjustments on sequential adaptations to visuomotor rotation and viscous force field perturbations. These two factors – perturbation direction and task discordance – have been examined separately by previous studies, thus the inherent difficulty to identify the roots of interference. Forty-eight human subjects adapted sequentially to one or two types of perturbations, of matched or conflicting directions. We found a gradient of interaction effects based on perturbation direction and task discordance. Perturbations of matched directions showed facilitation while perturbations of opposite directions, which required opposing motor adjustments, interfered with each other. Further, interaction effects increased with greater task discordance. We also found that force field and visuomotor rotation had mutual anterograde and retrograde effects. However, we found independence between anterograde and retrograde interferences between similar tasks. The results suggest that the newly acquired internal models of kinematic and dynamic perturbations are not independent but they share common neuronal resources and interact between them. Such overlap does not necessarily imply competition of resources. Rather, our results point to an additional principle of sensorimotor adaptation allowing the system to tap or harness common features across diverse sensory inputs and task contexts whenever available.

Authors: Arce F, Novick I, Vaadia E.
Year of publication: 2010
Journal: Front Hum Neurosci. 2010 Jan 4;3:65

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