The effects of training breadth on motor generalization

Max Berniker*, Hamid Mirzaei, Konrad P. Kording

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


To generate new movements, we have to generalize what we have learned from previously practiced movements. An important question, therefore, is how the breadth of training affects generalization: does practicing a broad or narrow range of movements lead to better generalization? We address this question with a force field learning experiment. One group adapted while making many reaches in a small region (narrow group), and another group adapted while making reaches in a large region (broad group). Subsequently, both groups were tested for their ability to generalize without visual feedback. Not surprisingly, the narrow group exhibited smaller adaptation errors, yet they did not generalize any better than the broad group. Path errors during generalization were indistinguishable across the two groups, whereas the broad group exhibited reduced terminal errors. These findings indicate that overall, practicing a variety of movements is advantageous for performance during generalization; movement paths are not hindered, and terminal errors are superior. Moreover, the evidence suggests a dissociation between the ability to generalize information about a novel dynamic disturbance, which generalizes narrowly, and the ability to locate the limb accurately in space, which generalizes broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2791-2798
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Motor generalization
  • Motor learning
  • Motor training
  • Practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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