Active lead-in variability affects motor memory formation and slows motor learning

Ian S. Howard, Christopher Ford, Angelo Cangelosi, David W. Franklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid learning can be critical to ensure elite performance in a changing world or to recover basic movement after neural injuries. Recently it was shown that the variability of follow-through movements affects the rate of motor memory formation. Here we investigate if lead-in movement has a similar effect on learning rate. We hypothesized that both modality and variability of lead-in movement would play critical roles, with simulations suggesting that only changes in active lead-in variability would exhibit slower learning. We tested this experimentally using a two-movement paradigm, with either visual or active initial lead-in movements preceeding a second movement performed in a force field. As predicted, increasing active lead-in variability reduced the rate of motor adaptation, whereas changes in visual lead-in variability had little effect. This demonstrates that distinct neural tuning activity is induced by different lead-in modalities, subsequently influencing the access to, and switching between, distinct motor memories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7806
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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