Adaptation of motor control strategies to environmental cues in a pursuit-tracking task


Visually guided tracking paradigms can provide insight into the adaptability of motor control strategies. We argue that the question of whether a sensorimotor process, or its absence, is beneficial or detrimental for performance is one that needs to be answered relative to the sensory cues available in the environment and the given task constraints. In this paper, we describe how and when environmental cues have task-dependent benefits. We used a new pursuit-tracking paradigm and added, removed, or replaced cues within the same tracking task in either predictable or unpredictable environments to investigate the use and adaptability of different control strategies. Participants were invited to perform a tracking task over six blocks in six different conditions. Compared to a condition where both target and control cursor (cues) were visible, performance was maintained when a cue was added and decreased when a cue was removed. Our results show that participants only learned to use new cues if the old one was removed and the replacement was valid. This means that the sensorimotor system adapts only if forced to do so instead of constantly exploiting optimization strategies.

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Correspondence to Markus Raab.

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Raab, M., de Oliveira, R.F., Schorer, J. et al. Adaptation of motor control strategies to environmental cues in a pursuit-tracking task. Exp Brain Res 228, 155–160 (2013).

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  • Sensorimotor processes
  • Feedback
  • Feedforward
  • Representation
  • Bounded rationality