The question addressed in this study is whether parietal brain circuits involved in adaptation to novel visuomotor conditions are lateralized. This information is critical for characterizing the neural mechanisms mediating adaptive behavior in humans, as well as for assessing the effects of unilateral brain damage on function. Moreover, previous research has been controversial in this regard. We compared visuomotor adaptation in 10 patients with focal, unilateral, left or right parietal lesions and healthy control participants. All subjects reached to each of eight targets over three experimental sessions: a baseline session, where the visually displayed and actual hand motion were matched; an adaptation session, where the visual feedback deviated from the actual movement direction by 30°; and an after-effect session, where visual feedback was again matched to hand motion. Adaptation was primarily quantified as a change in initial movement direction throughout the adaptation session and the presence of after-effects when the rotation was removed. Patients with right parietal damage demonstrated normal adaptation and large after-effects, which was comparable to the performance of healthy controls. In contrast, patients with left parietal damage showed a clear deficit in adaptation and showed no after-effects. Thus, our results show that left but not right parietal regions are critical for visuomotor adaptation. These findings are discussed in the context that left parietal regions are critical for the modification of stored representations of the relationship between movement commandsand limb and environmental state, as is thought to occur during visuomotor adaptation.
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