Individual movement features during prism adaptation correlate with after-effects and interlimb transfer

  • Renault Alix
  • Lefumat Hannah
  • Miall R. Chris
  • Bringoux Lionel
  • Bourdin Christophe
  • Vercher Jean-Louis
  • Sarlegna F R


The human nervous system displays such plasticity that we can adapt our motor behavior to various changes in environmental or body properties. However, how sensorimotor adaptation generalizes to new situations and new effectors, and which factors influence the underlying mechanisms, remains unclear. Here we tested the general hypothesis that differences across participants can be exploited to uncover what drives interlimb transfer. Twenty healthy adults adapted to prismatic glasses while reaching to visual targets with their dominant arm. Classic adaptation and generalization across movement directions were observed but transfer to the non-dominant arm was not significant and inter-individual differences were substantial. Interlimb transfer resulted for some participants in a directional shift of non-dominant arm movements that was consistent with an encoding of visuomotor adaptation in extrinsic coordinates. For some other participants, transfer was consistent with an intrinsic coordinate system. Simple and multiple regression analyses showed that a few kinematic parameters such as peak acceleration (or peak velocity) and variability of movement direction were correlated with interlimb transfer. Low peak acceleration and low variability were related to extrinsic transfer, while high peak acceleration and high variability were related to intrinsic transfer. Motor variability was also positively correlated with the magnitude of the after-effect systematically observed on the dominant arm. Overall, these findings on unconstrained movements support the idea that individual movement features could be linked to the sensorimotor adaptation and its generalization. The study also suggests that distinct movement characteristics may be related to different coordinate frames of action representations in the nervous system.