Trial-by-trial analysis of intermanual transfer during visuomotor adaptation

Jordan A. Taylor, Greg J. Wojaczynski, Richard B. Ivry

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65 Scopus citations


Studies of intermanual transfer have been used to probe representations formed during skill acquisition. We employ a new method that provides a continuous assay of intermanual transfer, intermixing right-and left-hand trials while limiting visual feedback to right-hand movements. We manipulated the degree of awareness of the visuomotor rotation, introducing a 22.5° perturbation in either an abrupt single step or gradually in ~1° increments every 10 trials. Intermanual transfer was observed with the direction of left-hand movements shifting in the opposite direction of the rotation over the course of training. The transfer on left-hand trials was less than that observed in the right hand. Moreover, the magnitude of transfer was larger in our mixed-limb design compared with the standard blocked design in which transfer is only probed at the end of training. Transfer was similar in the abrupt and gradual groups, suggesting that awareness of the perturbation has little effect on intermanual transfer. In a final experiment, participants were provided with a strategy to offset an abrupt rotation, a method that has been shown to increase error over the course of training due to the operation of sensorimotor adaptation. This deterioration was also observed on left-hand probe trials, providing further support that awareness has little effect on intermanual transfer. These results indicate that intermanual transfer is not dependent on the implementation of cognitively assisted strategies that participants might adopt when they become aware that the visuomotor mapping has been perturbed. Rather, the results indicate that the information available to processes involved in adaptation entails some degree of effector independence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3157-3172
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


  • Awareness
  • Motor adaptation
  • Motor learning
  • Motor skills
  • Transfer


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