Not Letting The Left Leg Know What The Right Leg Is Doing: Limb-Specific Locomotor Adaptation To Sensory-Cue Conflict

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Psychological Science


We investigated the phenomenon of limb-specific locomotor adaptation in order to adjudicate between sensory-cue-conflict theory and motor-adaptation theory. The results were consistent with cue-conflict theory in demonstrating that two different leg-specific hopping aftereffects are modulated by the presence of conflicting estimates of self-motion from visual and nonvisual sources. Experiment 1 shows that leg-specific increases in forward drift during attempts to hop in place on one leg while blindfolded vary according to the relationship between visual information and motor activity during an adaptation to outdoor forward hopping. Experiment 2 shows that leg-specific changes in performance on a blindfolded hopping-to-target task are similarly modulated by the presence of cue conflict during adaptation to hopping on a treadmill. Experiment 3 shows that leg-specific aftereffects from hopping additionally produce inadvertent turning during running in place while blindfolded. The results of these experiments suggest that these leg-specific locomotor aftereffects are produced by sensory-cue conflict rather than simple motor adaptation.