Movements following force-field adaptation are aligned with altered sense of limb position

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Experimental Brain Research

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© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Previous work has shown that motor learning is associated with changes to both movements and to the somatosensory perception of limb position. In an earlier study that motivates the current work, it appeared that following washout trials, movements did not return to baseline but rather were aligned with associated changes to sensed limb position. Here, we provide a systematic test of this relationship, examining the idea that adaptation-related changes to sensed limb position and to the path of the limb are linked, not only after washout trials but at all stages of the adaptation process. We used a force-field adaptation paradigm followed by washout trials in which subjects performed movements without visual feedback of the limb. Tests of sensed limb position were conducted at each phase of adaptation, specifically before and after baseline movements in a null field, after force-field adaptation, and following washout trials in a null field. As in previous work, sensed limb position changed in association with force-field adaptation. At each stage of adaptation, we observed a correlation between the sensed limb position and associated path of the limb. At a group level, there were differences between the clockwise and counter-clockwise conditions. However, whenever there were changes in sensed limb position, movements following washout did not return to baseline. This suggests that adaptation in sensory and motor systems is not independent processes but rather sensorimotor adaptation is linked to sensory change. Sensory change and limb movement remain in alignment throughout adaptation such that the path of the limb is aligned with the altered sense of limb position.


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