Split-belt walking adaptation recalibrates sensorimotor estimates of leg speed but not position or force

Alejandro Vazquez, Matthew A. Statton, Stefanie A. Busgang, Amy J. Bastian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Motor learning during reaching not only recalibrates movement but can also lead to small but consistent changes in the sense of arm position. Studies have suggested that this sensory effect may be the result of recalibration of a forward model that associates motor commands with their sensory consequences. Here we investigated whether similar perceptual changes occur in the lower limbs after learning a new walking pattern on a split-belt treadmill—a task that critically involves proprioception. Specifically, we studied how this motor learning task affects perception of leg speed during walking, perception of leg position during standing or walking, and perception of contact force during stepping. Our results show that split-belt adaptation leads to robust motor aftereffects and alters the perception of leg speed during walking. This is specific to the direction of walking that was trained during adaptation (i.e., backward or forward). The change in leg speed perception accounts for roughly half of the observed motor aftereffect. In contrast, split-belt adaptation does not alter the perception of leg position during standing or walking and does not change the perception of stepping force. Our results demonstrate that there is a recalibration of a sensory percept specific to the domain of the perturbation that was applied during walking (i.e., speed but not position or force). Furthermore, the motor and sensory consequences of locomotor adaptation may be linked, suggesting overlapping mechanisms driving changes in the motor and sensory domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3255-3267
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Volume114
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 18 2015

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Gait
  • Motor learning
  • Perception
  • Split-belt treadmill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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