Journal of Neurophysiology
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Actions involving fine control of the hand, for example, grasping an object, rely heavily on sensory information from the fingertips. Although the integration of feedback during the execution of individual movements is well understood, less is known about the use of sensory feedback in the control of skilled movement sequences. To address this gap, we trained participants to produce sequences of finger movements on a keyboard-like device over a 4-day training period. Participants received haptic, visual, and auditory feedback indicating the occurrence of each finger press. We then either transiently delayed or advanced the feedback for a single press by a small amount of time (30 or 60 ms). We observed that participants rapidly adjusted their ongoing finger press by either accelerating or prolonging the ongoing press, in accordance with the direction of the perturbation. Furthermore, we could show that this rapid behavioral modulation was driven by haptic feedback. Although these feedback-driven adjustments reduced in size with practice, they were still clearly present at the end of training. In contrast to the directionally specific effect we observed on the perturbed press, a feedback perturbation resulted in a delayed onset of the subsequent presses irrespective of perturbation direction or feedback modality. This observation is consistent with a hierarchical organization of even very skilled and fast movement sequences, with different levels reacting distinctly to sensory perturbations. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Sensory feedback is important during the execution of a movement. However, little is known about how sensory feedback is used during the production of movement sequences. Here, we show two distinct feedback processes in the execution of fast finger movement sequences. By transiently delaying or advancing the feedback of a single press within a sequence, we observed a directionally specific effect on the perturbed press and a directionally non-specific effect on the subsequent presses.