Motor learning and transfer: from feedback to feedforward control [article]

Rodrigo S Maeda, Paul L Gribble, J. Andrew Pruszynski
2019 bioRxiv   pre-print
Previous work has demonstrated that when learning a new motor task, the nervous system modifies feedforward (ie. voluntary) motor commands and that such learning transfers to fast feedback (ie. reflex) responses evoked by mechanical perturbations. Here we show the inverse, that learning new feedback responses transfers to feedforward motor commands. Sixty human participants (34 females) used a robotic exoskeleton and either 1) received short duration mechanical perturbations (20 ms) that
more » ... pure elbow rotation or 2) generated self-initiated pure elbow rotations. They did so with the shoulder joint free to rotate (normal arm dynamics) or locked (altered arm dynamics) by the robotic manipulandum. With the shoulder unlocked, the perturbation evoked clear shoulder muscle activity in the long-latency stretch reflex epoch (50-100ms post-perturbation), as required for countering the imposed joint torques, but little muscle activity thereafter in the so-called voluntary response. After locking the shoulder joint, which alters the required joint torques to counter pure elbow rotation, we found a reliable reduction in the long-latency stretch reflex over many trials. This reduction transferred to feedforward control as we observed 1) a reduction in shoulder muscle activity during self-initiated pure elbow rotation trials and 2) kinematic errors (ie. aftereffects) in the direction predicted when failing to compensate for normal arm dynamics, even though participants never practiced self-initiated movements with the shoulder locked. Taken together, our work shows that transfer between feedforward and feedback control is bidirectional, furthering the notion that these processes share common neural circuits that underlie motor learning and transfer.
doi:10.1101/845933 fatcat:ek2lte277vesbkueoqdl3qd7zi