Perceptual and motor tasks assess different aspects of awareness following visuomotor adaptation


Awareness has been shown to play a role in visuomotor adaptation, such that participants who are aware of the visual distortion or changes in their reaches tend to adapt their movements quicker, and engage in more explicit (i.e., strategic) processing (Neville and Cressman, 2018). To date, awareness has been established based on both perceptual reports at the end of the experiment and motor tasks, in which participants are instructed to reach while using any learned reaching strategies. Here we asked if these perceptual and motor tasks assess similar aspects of awareness of the visuomotor distortion. Participants were divided into 2 Rotation groups and adapted their reaches to a small (30degree) or large (40degree) visuomotor rotation. Awareness was assessed in both groups following adaptation using perceptual reports (verbally indicate if a visuomotor distortion was present and the size of the distortion) and a motor task (reach to the target using any learned strategies in the absence of visual feedback). In both Rotation groups, changes in reaches observed in the motor tasks was significantly less than the size of the visuomotor distortion verbally reported. Furthermore, while participants in the small rotation group were able to verbally report awareness of the visuomotor distortion, their reaches did not reflect this awareness (i.e., participants did not engage in any strategic reaching). Thus, perceptual and motor tasks assess different aspects of awareness, and future work should consider methods of assessment when interpreting the influence of awareness on visuomotor adaptation.

Acknowledgments: Acknowledgements: supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada [EKC].