Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 208, Issue 2, pp 257–268 | Cite as

Physical delay but not subjective delay determines learning rate in prism adaptation

Research Article


Timing is critical in determining the causal relationship between two events. Motor adaptation relies on the timing of actions and their results for determining which preceding control signals were responsible for subsequent error in the resulting movements. An artificially induced temporal delay in error feedback as short as 50 ms has been found to slow the learning rate of prism adaptation. Recent studies have demonstrated that our sense of simultaneity is flexibly adaptive when a persistent delay is inserted into visual feedback timing of one’s own action. Therefore, judgments of “subjective simultaneity” (i.e. whether two events are simultaneous on a subjective basis) do not necessarily correspond to the actual simultaneity of physical events. We evaluated the effects of adaptation to a temporal shift of subjective simultaneity on prism adaptation by examining whether prism adaptation depends on physical timing or subjective timing. We found that after persistently experiencing an additional 100-ms delay in a pointing experiment, psychometric curves of the timing of judgments about the temporal order of touching and visual feedback were shifted by 40 ms, indicating that subjective simultaneity adapted. Next, while maintaining temporal adaptation, participants adapted to spatial displacement caused by a prism with and without an additional temporal delay in feedback. Learning speed was reliably predicted by physical timing but not by subjective timing. These results indicate that prism adaptation occurs independently of awareness of subjective timing and may be processed in primary motor areas that are thought to have fidelity with temporal relations.


Motor adaptation Subjective simultaneity Physical simultaneity Temporal adaptation Spatial adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hirokazu Tanaka
    • 1
  • Kazuhiro Homma
    • 2
  • Hiroshi Imamizu
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NiCT)KyotoJapan
  2. 2.Nagaoka University of TechnologyNiigataJapan
  3. 3.ATR Cognitive Mechanisms LaboratoriesKyotoJapan

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