Saccade adaptation improves in response to a gradually introduced stimulus perturbation

Aaron L. Wong, Mark Shelhamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A major goal in the study of motor learning is to improve the extent to which subjects adapt their movements in response to errors. Recent attention has focused on the gradual-adaptation paradigm, in which an adaptive stimulus is introduced incrementally, rather than all at once as in conventional adaptation paradigms. However, there is disagreement - even among studies involving the same sensorimotor-learning task - as to the robustness of this approach. In particular, although all studies confirm that retention of learning is improved, not all agree that exposure to a gradual-adaptation paradigm can improve the extent of adaptation that takes place. Also, the paradigm has not previously been studied with saccadic eye movements, which are unique in that they typically lack online error feedback during each movement. To determine the effectiveness of gradual adaptation in this system, we compared saccadic adaptation performed with gradual and conventional adaptation paradigms. We find evidence consistent with more robust adaptation - in the sense of greater extent of adaptation as well as greater retention of learning (larger aftereffects) - in response to a gradual adaptation stimulus. The results suggest the need to develop alternative models of motor learning, as current error-based modeling efforts are unable to account for the increased extent of adaptation when subjects are only exposed to the full adaptive stimulus for a brief time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 18 2011


  • Gradual adaptation
  • Motor learning
  • Saccades

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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