Residual errors in visuomotor adaptation persist despite extended motor preparation periods

Matthew Weightman*, John Stuart Brittain, R. Chris Miall, Ned Jenkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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A consistent finding in sensorimotor adaptation is a persistent undershoot of full compensation, such that performance asymptotes with residual errors greater than seen at baseline. This behavior has been attributed to limiting factors within the implicit adaptation system, which reaches a suboptimal equilibrium between trial-by-trial learning and forgetting. However, recent research has suggested that allowing longer motor planning periods prior to movement eliminates these residual errors. The additional planning time allows required cognitive processes to be completed before movement onset, thus increasing accuracy. Here, we looked to extend these findings by investigating the relationship between increased motor preparation time and the size of imposed visuomotor rotation (30°, 45°, or 60°), with regard to the final asymptotic level of adaptation. We found that restricting preparation time to 0.35 s impaired adaptation for moderate and larger rotations, resulting in larger residual errors compared to groups with additional preparation time. However, we found that even extended preparation time failed to eliminate persistent errors, regardless of magnitude of cursor rotation. Thus, the asymptote of adaptation was significantly less than the degree of imposed rotation, for all experimental groups. In addition, there was a positive relationship between asymptotic error and implicit retention. These data suggest that a prolonged motor preparation period is insufficient to reliably achieve complete adaptation, and therefore, our results suggest that factors beyond that of planning time contribute to asymptotic adaptation levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR). R.C.M. was also partly funded by the Royal Society, Leverhulme and Wellcome Trust.


  • Mental rotation
  • Motor preparation
  • Sensorimotor adaptation
  • Space Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity/physiology
  • Young Adult
  • Adaptation, Physiological/physiology
  • Imagination/physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Psychomotor Performance/physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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