Relative sensitivity of explicit re-aiming and implicit motor adaptation [article]

Sarah A. Hutter, Jordan A. Taylor
2018 bioRxiv   pre-print
It has become increasingly clear that learning in visuomotor rotation tasks, which induce an angular mismatch between movements of the hand and visual feedback, largely results from the combined effort of two distinct processes: implicit motor adaptation and explicit re-aiming. However, it remains unclear how these two processes work together to produce trial-by-trial learning. Previous work has found that implicit motor adaptation operates automatically, regardless of task relevancy, and
more » ... tes for large errors. In contrast, little is known about the automaticity of explicit re-aiming and its sensitivity to error magnitude. Here we sought to characterize the automaticity and sensitivity function of these two processes to determine how they work together to facilitate performance in a visuomotor rotation task. We found that implicit adaptation scales relative to the visual error, but only for small perturbations — replicating prior work. In contrast, explicit re-aiming scales linearly for all tested perturbation sizes. Furthermore, the consistency of the perturbation appears to diminish both implicit adaptation and explicit re-aiming, but to different degrees. Whereas implicit adaptation always displayed a response to the error, explicit re-aiming was only engaged when errors displayed a minimal degree of consistency. This comports with the idea that implicit adaptation is obligatory and less flexible, while explicit re-aiming is volitional and flexible.
doi:10.1101/308510 fatcat:aqba3kh3mfcudmyki55krzijsm