Force Field Generalization and the Internal Representation of Motor Learning
MetadataShow full item record
When learning a new motor behavior, e.g. reaching in a force field, the nervous system builds an internal representation. Examining how subsequent reaches in unpracticed directions generalize reveals this representation. Although often studied, it is not known how this representation changes across training directions, or how changes in reach direction and the corresponding changes in limb impedance, influence these measurements. We ran a force field adaptation experiment using eight groups of subjects each trained on one of eight standard directions and then tested for generalization in the remaining seven directions. Generalization in all directions was local and asymmetric, providing limited and unequal transfer to the left and right side of the trained target. These asymmetries were not consistent in either magnitude or direction, even after correcting for changes in limb impedance, at odds with prior explanations. Relying on a standard model for generalization, the inferred representations inconsistently shifted to one side or the other of their respective training direction. A second model that accounted for limb impedance and variations in baseline trajectories explained more data, and the inferred representations were centered on their respective training directions. Our results highlight the influence of limb mechanics and impedance on psychophysical measurements and their interpretations for motor learning.
SubjectHuman Motor Control, Force Field, Adaptation, Learning, Generalization, Internal Representation