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Keyser J, Medendorp WP, Selen LPJ (2017) Task-dependent vestibular feedback responses in reaching. Journal of Neurophysiology, 118(1):84-92    
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Correcting limb movements for external perturbations is a hallmark of flexible sensorimotor behavior. While visual and mechanical perturbations are corrected in a task-dependent manner, it is unclear whether a vestibular perturbation, naturally arising when the body moves, is selectively processed in reach control. We show, using galvanic vestibular stimulation, that reach corrections to vestibular perturbations are task dependent, consistent with a prediction of optimal feedback control theory
Abstract
When reaching for an earth-fixed object during self-rotation, the motor system should appropriately integrate vestibular signals and sensory predictions to compensate for the intervening motion and its induced inertial forces. While it is well established that this integration occurs rapidly, it is unknown whether vestibular feedback is specifically processed dependent on the behavioral goal. Here, we studied whether vestibular signals evoke fixed responses with the aim to preserve the hand trajectory in space or are processed more flexibly, correcting trajectories only in task-relevant spatial dimensions. We used galvanic vestibular stimulation to perturb reaching movements toward a narrow or a wide target. Results show that the same vestibular stimulation led to smaller trajectory corrections to the wide than the narrow target. We interpret this reduced compensation as a task-dependent modulation of vestibular feedback responses, tuned to minimally intervene with the task-irrelevant dimension of the reach. These task-dependent vestibular feedback corrections are in accordance with a central prediction of optimal feedback control theory and mirror the sophistication seen in feedback responses to mechanical and visual perturbations of the upper limb