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Increase in weighting of vision vs. proprioception associated with force field adaptation

By Brandon M Sexton, Yang Liu, Hannah J. Block

Posted 08 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/544189 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-46625-7)

Hand position can be encoded by vision, via an image on the retina, and proprioception (position sense), via sensors in the joints and muscles. The brain is thought to weight and combine available sensory estimates to form an integrated multisensory estimate of hand position with which to guide movement. Force field adaptation, a form of cerebellum-dependent motor learning in which reaches are systematically adjusted to compensate for a somatosensory perturbation, is associated with both motor and proprioceptive changes. The cerebellum has connections with parietal regions thought to be involved in multisensory integration; however, it is unknown if force adaptation is associated with changes in multisensory perception. One possibility is that force adaptation affects all relevant sensory modalities similarly, such that the brain's weighting of vision vs. proprioception is maintained. Alternatively, the somatosensory perturbation might be interpreted as proprioceptive unreliability, resulting in vision being up-weighted relative to proprioception. We assessed visuo-proprioceptive weighting with a perceptual estimation task before and after subjects performed straight-ahead reaches grasping a robotic manipulandum. Each subject performed one session with a clockwise or counter-clockwise velocity-dependent force field, and one session in a null field to control for perceptual changes not specific to force adaptation. Subjects increased their weight of vision vs. proprioception in the force field session relative to the null field session, regardless of force field direction, in the straight-ahead dimension (F1,44 = 5.13, p = 0.029). This suggests that force field adaptation is associated with an increase in the brain's weighting of vision vs. proprioception.

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