Dealing with delays does not transfer across sensorimotor tasks

C. de la Malla, J. Lopez-Moliner, E. Brenner

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    It is known that people can learn to deal with delays between their actions and the consequences of such actions. We wondered whether they do so by adjusting their anticipations about the sensory consequences of their actions or whether they simply learn to move in certain ways when performing specific tasks. To find out, we examined details of how people learn to intercept a moving target with a cursor that follows the hand with a delay and examined the transfer of learning between this task and various other tasks that require temporal precision. Subjects readily learned to intercept the moving target with the delayed cursor. The compensation for the delay generalized across modifications of the task, so subjects did not simply learn to move in a certain way in specific circumstances. The compensation did not generalize to completely different timing tasks, so subjects did not generally expect the consequences of their motor commands to be delayed. We conclude that people specifically learn to control the delayed visual consequences of their actions to perform certain tasks.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8
    JournalJournal of Vision
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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