We studied the stability of changes in motor performance associated with adaptation to a novel dynamic environment during goal-directed movements of the dominant arm. Eleven normal, human subjects made targeted reaching movements in the horizontal plane while holding the handle of a two-joint robotic manipulator. This robot was programmed to generate a novel viscous force field that perturbed the limb perpendicular to the desired direction of movement. Following adaptation to this force field, we sought to determine the relative role of kinematic errors and dynamic criteria in promoting recovery from the adapted state. In particular, we compared kinematic and dynamic measures of performance when kinematic errors were allowed to occur after removal of the viscous fields, or prevented by imposing a simulated, mechanical 'channel' on movements. Hand forces recorded at the handle revealed that when kinematic errors were prevented from occurring by the application of the channel, recovery from adaptation to the novel field was much slower compared with when kinematic aftereffects were allowed to take place. In particular, when kinematic errors were prevented, subjects persisted in generating large forces that were unnecessary to generate an accurate reach. The magnitude of these forces decreased slowly over time, at a much slower rate than when subjects were allowed to make kinematic errors. This finding provides strong experimental evidence that both kinematic and dynamic criteria influence motor adaptation, and that kinematic-dependent factors play a dominant role in the rapid loss of adaptation after restoring the original dynamics.
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