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J Neurosci. 2013 Jun 26;33(26):10772-89. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3761-12.2013.

The generalization of visuomotor learning to untrained movements and movement sequences based on movement vector and goal location remapping.

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School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


The planning of goal-directed movements is highly adaptable; however, the basic mechanisms underlying this adaptability are not well understood. Even the features of movement that drive adaptation are hotly debated, with some studies suggesting remapping of goal locations and others suggesting remapping of the movement vectors leading to goal locations. However, several previous motor learning studies and the multiplicity of the neural coding underlying visually guided reaching movements stand in contrast to this either/or debate on the modes of motor planning and adaptation. Here we hypothesize that, during visuomotor learning, the target location and movement vector of trained movements are separately remapped, and we propose a novel computational model for how motor plans based on these remappings are combined during the control of visually guided reaching in humans. To test this hypothesis, we designed a set of experimental manipulations that effectively dissociated the effects of remapping goal location and movement vector by examining the transfer of visuomotor adaptation to untrained movements and movement sequences throughout the workspace. The results reveal that (1) motor adaptation differentially remaps goal locations and movement vectors, and (2) separate motor plans based on these features are effectively averaged during motor execution. We then show that, without any free parameters, the computational model we developed for combining movement-vector-based and goal-location-based planning predicts nearly 90% of the variance in novel movement sequences, even when multiple attributes are simultaneously adapted, demonstrating for the first time the ability to predict how motor adaptation affects movement sequence planning.

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