When subjects adapt their reaching movements in the setting of a systematic force or visual perturbation, generalization of adaptation can be assessed psychophysically in two ways: by testing untrained locations in the work space at the end of adaptation (slow postadaptation generalization) or by determining the influence of an error on the next trial during adaptation (fast trial-by-trial generalization). These two measures of generalization have been widely used in psychophysical studies, but the reason that they might differ has not been addressed explicitly. Our goal was to develop a computational framework for determining when a two-state model is justified by the data and to explore the implications of these two types of generalization for neural representations of movements. We first investigated, for single-target learning, how well standard statistical model selection procedures can discriminate two-process models from single-process models when learning and retention coefficients were systematically varied. We then built a two-state model for multitarget learning and showed that if an adaptation process is indeed two-rate, then the postadaptation generalization approach primarily probes the slow process, whereas the trial-by-trial generalization approach is most informative about the fast process. The fast process, due to its strong sensitivity to trial error, contributes predominantly to trial-by-trial generalization, whereas the strong retention of the slow system contributes predominantly to postadaptation generalization. Thus, when adaptation can be shown to be two-rate, the two measures of generalization may probe different brain representations of movement direction.

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