Unifying the Sensory and Motor Components of Sensorimotor Adaptation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 21 (NIPS 2008)

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Adrian Haith, Carl Jackson, R. Miall, Sethu Vijayakumar


Adaptation of visually guided reaching movements in novel visuomotor environments (e.g. wearing prism goggles) comprises not only motor adaptation but also substantial sensory adaptation, corresponding to shifts in the perceived spatial location of visual and proprioceptive cues. Previous computational models of the sensory component of visuomotor adaptation have assumed that it is driven purely by the discrepancy introduced between visual and proprioceptive estimates of hand position and is independent of any motor component of adaptation. We instead propose a unified model in which sensory and motor adaptation are jointly driven by optimal Bayesian estimation of the sensory and motor contributions to perceived errors. Our model is able to account for patterns of performance errors during visuomotor adaptation as well as the subsequent perceptual aftereffects. This unified model also makes the surprising prediction that force field adaptation will elicit similar perceptual shifts, even though there is never any discrepancy between visual and proprioceptive observations. We confirm this prediction with an experiment.