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Joo-Hyun Song, Patrick Bédard; Attentional load effects on visuo-motor learning. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1035. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1035.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To assess how attention is used during visuo-motor learning, we used a visuo-motor adaptation paradigm combined with a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task. Participants reached to visual targets presented on a computer monitor using a mouse. In the null condition, the cursor followed the mouse normally, whereas in the rotation condition, the cursor direction was rotated 45° clockwise to force movement re-updating and induce learning. Participants performed 40 null (Baseline), 160 rotation (Learning), 80 null, and 80 rotation trials (Recall). In the RSVP task, participants had to detect various colored upright and inverted ‘T’s during the Baseline and Learning phases. Attentional load was manipulated by instructing the three groups of participants either to ignore the RSVP task (No load), detect a single feature (Low load), or detect a conjunction target (High load). Our results show that during the Learning phase, all groups performed similarly, decreasing reaching error steadily regardless of attentional load. Further, there was no difference between the groups at the end of the Learning phase. However, while the No load and Low load groups showed lower reaching error at the Recall phase, in which the rotation condition was introduced again after the null condition, than at the Learning phase, the High load group behaved like naïve participants, showing no improvement in error reduction rate compared to the initial learning block. Thus, this suggests that although attentional load does not interfere with error reduction during sensory-motor adaptation, it appears to critically disrupt memory formation, supporting a selective role of attention in motor memory formation.
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