Generalisation of adaptation to a visuomotor rotation from curved to straight line reaching
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Numerous studies have investigated motor learning by examining the adaptation of reaching movements to visuomotor perturbations that alter the mapping between actual and visually perceived hand position. The picture of the visuomotor transformation from visual input to motor input that has developed consists of three broad phases: integration of hand and target locations in a common reference frame, calculation of a movement vector between hand and target, and transformation of this movement vector from the common reference frame into motor commands. The process of adapting to a visuomotor rotation is generally viewed as an alteration of the vectorial representation of reach planning. When visual feedback is rotated, the motor and visual directions no longer coincide and the motor command executed is remapped to the subsequent visual direction produced. In the current set of studies, we examined how learning a visuomotor rotation while reaching to a target with a curved hand path generalizes to straight path reaching and novel target directions. We found that there is very little to no generalization of learning between curved reaches and straight reaches when given only endpoint feedback. With continuous visual feedback, we found partial transfer. This suggests that in the absence of visual feedback, the vectorial adaptation hypothesis is insufficient and adaptation to a visuomotor rotation is mediated by the later stages of the visuomotor transformation, when the motor commands specific to the hand path used are being generated.