Sinusoidal error perturbation reveals multiple coordinate systems for sensorymotor adaptation

Todd E. Hudson, Michael S. Landy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A coordinate system is composed of an encoding, defining the dimensions of the space, and an origin. We examine the coordinate encoding used to update motor plans during sensory-motor adaptation to center-out reaches. Adaptation is induced using a novel paradigm in which feedback of reach endpoints is perturbed following a sinewave pattern over trials; the perturbed dimensions of the feedback were the axes of a Cartesian coordinate system in one session and a polar coordinate system in another session. For center-out reaches to randomly chosen target locations, reach errors observed at one target will require different corrections at other targets within Cartesian- and polar-coded systems. The sinewave adaptation technique allowed us to simultaneously adapt both dimensions of each coordinate system (x-y, or reach gain and angle), and identify the contributions of each perturbed dimension by adapting each at a distinct temporal frequency. The efficiency of this technique further allowed us to employ perturbations that were a fraction the size normally used, which avoids confounding automatic adaptive processes with deliberate adjustments made in response to obvious experimental manipulations. Subjects independently corrected errors in each coordinate in both sessions, suggesting that the nervous system encodes both a Cartesian- and polar-coordinate-based internal representation for motor adaptation. The gains and phase lags of the adaptive responses are not readily explained by current theories of sensory-motor adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-98
Number of pages17
JournalVision research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Coordinate system
  • Internal representation
  • Motor adaptation
  • Movement code
  • Movement encoding
  • Movement error
  • Plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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