A long history of behavioral and physiological research has suggested that bilateral coordination invokes unique neural processes that are not involved in unilateral movements. This hypothesis predicts that motor learning should show limited transfer between unilateral and bilateral conditions, which is consistent with a recent finding that indicated partial, but not complete, transfer of learning between the two conditions. However, during learning of new motor skills, transformations must also be made between visual and proprioceptive coordinate systems, a process that may occur upstream to the processes that differentiate bilateral from unilateral movements. We now investigate whether visuomotor adaptations are shared between unilateral and bilateral movement conditions. Our results indicate substantial transfer from bilateral to subsequent unilateral conditions for both arms. Interestingly, whereas the nondominant arm never showed complete adaptation to visual rotation under bilateral conditions, this interference, or lack of improvement, in bilateral performance did not disturb the visuomotor adaptation process or transfer, as reflected by superb unilateral performances immediately following the bilateral conditions. These findings unambiguously indicate that visuomotor adaptation can extensively generalize between bilateral and unilateral conditions, thus suggesting a substantial overlap in the neural processes underlying visuomotor transformations between the two movement conditions. Our findings provide support for a two-stage model of motor planning, in which the visuomotor transformation process precedes the processes that convert the visuomotor plan into effectorspecific commands that incorporate bilateral synergies and that result in the forces that determine motion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes