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Patrick Bédard, Joo-Hyun Song; Attention modulates generalization of visuomotor adaptation. Journal of Vision 2013;13(12):12. doi: 10.1167/13.12.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Generalization represents the ability to transfer what has been learned in one context to another context beyond limited experience. Because acquired motor representations often have to be reinstated in a different or novel environment, generalization is a crucial part of visuomotor learning. In daily life, training for new motor skills often occurs in a complex environment, in which dividing attentional resources for multiple stimuli is required. However, it is unknown how dividing attention during learning affects the generalization of visuomotor learning. We examined how divided attention during training modulates the generalization of visuomotor rotational adaptation. Participants were trained to adapt to one direction with or without dividing attention to a simultaneously presented visual detection task. Then, they had to generalize rotational adaptation to other untrained directions. We show that visuomotor training with divided attention multiplicatively reduces the gain and sharpens the tuning of the generalization function. We suggest that limiting attention narrowly restricts an internal model, reducing the range and magnitude of transfer. This result suggests that attention modulates a selective subpopulation of neurons in motor areas, those with directional tuning values in or near the training direction.
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