Gradual exposure to Coriolis force induces sensorimotor adaptation with no change in peripersonal space

  • Leclere Nicolas
  • Sarlegna Fabrice
  • Coello Yann
  • Bourdin Christophe

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Human behaviour
  • Motor control
  • Perception


The space immediately surrounding the body is crucial for the organization of voluntary motor actions and seems to be functionally represented in the brain according to motor capacities. However, despite extensive research, little is known about how the representation of peripersonal space is adjusted to new action capacities. Abrupt exposure to a new force field has been shown to cause the representation of peripersonal space to shrink, possibly reflecting a conservative spatial strategy triggered by consciously-perceived motor errors. The present study assessed whether the representation of peripersonal space is influenced by gradual exposure of reaching movements to a new force field, produced by a stepwise acceleration of a rotating platform. We hypothesized that such gradual exposure would induce progressive sensorimotor adaptation to motor errors, albeit too small to be consciously perceived. In contrast, we hypothesized that reachability judgments, used as a proxy of peripersonal space representation, would not be significantly affected. Results showed that gradual exposure to Coriolis force produced a systematic after-effect on reaching movements but no significant change in reachability judgments. We speculate that the conscious experience of large motor errors may influence the updating of the representation of peripersonal space.