Both Movement-End and Task-End Are Critical for Error Feedback in Visuomotor Adaptation: A Behavioral Experiment

Ishikawa, Takumi; Sakaguchi, Yutaka
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
An important issue in motor learning/adaptation research is how the brain accepts the error information necessary for maintaining and improving task performance in a changing environment. The present study focuses on the effect of timing of error feedback. Previous research has demonstrated that adaptation to displacement of the visual field by prisms in a manual reaching task is significantly slowed by delayed visual feedback of the endpoint, suggesting that error feedback is most effective when given at the end of a movement. To further elucidate the brain mechanism by which error information is accepted in visuomotor adaptation, we tested whether error acceptance is linked to the end of a given task or to the end of an executed movement. We conducted a behavioral experiment using a virtual shooting task in which subjects controlled their wrist movements to meet a target with a cursor as accurately as possible. We manipulated the timing of visual feedback of the impact position so that it occurred either ahead of or behind the true time of impact. In another condition, the impact timing was explicitly indicated by an additional cue. The magnitude of the aftereffect significantly varied depending on the timing of feedback (p < 0.05, Friedman's Test). Interestingly, two distinct peaks of aftereffect were observed around movement-end and around task-end, irrespective of the existence of the timing cue. However, the peak around task-end was sharper when the timing cue was given. Our results demonstrate that the brain efficiently accepts error information at both movement-end and task-end, suggesting that two different learning mechanisms may underlie visuomotor transformation.


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