Enhancing Generalization of Visuomotor Adaptation by Inducing Use-dependent Learning

Yuming Lei*, Shancheng Bao, Monica A Perez, Jinsung Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Learning a motor task in one condition typically generalizes to another, although it is unclear why it generalizes substantially in certain situations, but only partially in other situations (e.g., across movement directions and motor effectors). Here, we demonstrate that generalization of motor learning across directions and effectors can be enhanced substantially by inducing use-dependent learning, that is, by having subjects experience motor actions associated with a desired trajectory repeatedly during reaching movements. In Experiments 1 and 2, healthy human adults adapted to a visuomotor rotation while concurrently experiencing repetitive passive movements guided by a robot. This manipulation increased the extent of generalization across movement directions (Expt. 1) and across the arms (Expt. 2) by up to 50% and 42%, respectively, indicating crucial contribution of use-dependent learning to motor generalization. In Experiment 3, we applied repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the left primary motor cortex (M1) of the human subjects prior to passive training with the right arm to increase cortical excitability. This intervention resulted in increased motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) and decreased short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) in the rTMS group, but not in the sham group. These changes observed in the rTMS group were accompanied by enhanced generalization of visuomotor adaptation across the arms, which was not the case in the sham group. Collectively, these findings confirm the involvement of M1 in use-dependent learning, and suggest that use-dependent learning can contribute not only to motor learning, but also to motor generalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-195
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Dec 16 2017


  • interlimb transfer
  • passive movement
  • primary motor cortex
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • visuomotor adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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