Adaptation to visual feedback delay in a redundant motor task

Ali Farshchiansadegh*, Rajiv Ranganathan, Maura Casadio, Ferdinando A. Mussa-Ivaldi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to examine the reorganization of hand movements during adaptation to delayed visual feedback in a novel and redundant environment. In most natural behaviors, the brain must learn to invert a many-to-one map from high-dimensional joint movements and muscle forces to a low-dimensional goal. This spatial “inverse map” is learned by associating motor commands to their low-dimensional consequences. How is this map affected by the presence of temporal delays? A delay presents the brain with a new set of kinematic data, and, because of redundancy, the brain may use these data to form a new inverse map. We consider two possible responses to a novel visuomotor delay. In one case, the brain updates the previously learned spatial map, building a new association between motor commands and visual feedback of their effects. In the alternative case, the brain preserves the original map and learns to compensate the delay by a temporal shift of the motor commands. To test these alternative possibilities, we developed a virtual reality game in which subjects controlled the two-dimensional coordinates of a cursor by continuous hand gestures. Two groups of subjects tracked a target along predictable paths by wearing an instrumented data glove that recorded finger motions. The 19-dimensional glove signals controlled a cursor on a 2-dimensional computer display. The experiment was performed on 2 consecutive days. On the 1st day, subjects practiced tracking movements without delay. On the 2nd day, the test group performed the same task with a delay of 300 ms between the glove signals and the cursor display, whereas the control group continued practicing the nondelayed trials. We found evidence that to compensate for the delay, the test group relied on the coordination patterns established during the baseline, e.g., their hand-to-cursor inverse map was robust to the delay perturbation, which was counteracted by an anticipation of the motor command.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-433
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2015


  • Adaptation
  • Motor learning
  • Redundancy
  • Reorganization of movement
  • Visual feedback delay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Adaptation to visual feedback delay in a redundant motor task'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this