The training schedule affects the stability, not the magnitude, of the interlimb transfer of learned dynamics

Wilsaan Joiner, Jordan B. Brayanov, Maurice A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The way that a motor adaptation is trained, for example, the manner in which it is introduced or the duration of the training period, can influence its internal representation. However, recent studies examining the gradual versus abrupt introduction of a novel environment have produced conflicting results. Here we examined how these effects determine the effector specificity of motor adaptation during visually guided reaching. After adaptation to velocity-dependent dynamics in the right arm, we estimated the amount of adaptation transferred to the left arm, using error-clamp measurement trials to directly measure changes in learned dynamics. We found that a small but significant amount of generalization to the untrained arm occurs under three different training schedules: a short-duration (15 trials) abrupt presentation, a long-duration (160 trials) abrupt presentation, and a long-duration gradual presentation of the novel dynamic environment. Remarkably, we found essentially no difference between the amount of interlimb generalization when comparing these schedules, with 9-12% transfer of the trained adaptation for all three. However, the duration of training had a pronounced effect on the stability of the interlimb transfer: The transfer elicited from short-duration training decayed rapidly, whereas the transfer from both long-duration training schedules was considerably more persistent (<50% vs.> 90% retention over the first 20 trials). These results indicate that the amount of interlimb transfer is similar for gradual versus abrupt training and that interlimb transfer of learned dynamics can occur after even a brief training period but longer training is required for an enduring effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-998
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 8 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Interlimb generalization
  • Motor adaptation
  • Reaching arm movements
  • Training schedule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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