The neural systems that support motor adaptation in humans are thought to be distinct from those that support the declarative system. Yet, during motor adaptation changes in motor commands are supported by a fast adaptive process that has important properties (rapid learning, fast decay) that are usually associated with the declarative system. The fast process can be contrasted to a slow adaptive process that also supports motor memory, but learns gradually and shows resistance to forgetting. Here we show that after people stop performing a motor task, the fast motor memory can be disrupted by a task that engages declarative memory, but the slow motor memory is immune from this interference. Furthermore, we find that the fast/declarative component plays a major role in the consolidation of the slow motor memory. Because of the competitive nature of declarative and nondeclarative memory during consolidation, impairment of the fast/declarative component leads to improvements in the slow/nondeclarative component. Therefore, the fast process that supports formation of motor memory is not only neurally distinct from the slow process, but it shares critical resources with the declarative memory system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas