Cortical Processing during Dynamic Motor Adaptation
In this chapter we investigate the role of motor cortex in adapting movements to novel dynamic environments. We present results from two experiments in which monkey or human subjects learned to make two-dimensional reaching movements while holding a robotic manipulandum that applied a predictable pattern of forces (a curl field) to their hand. In the first study, we analyzed electrophysiological data recorded in motor cortex while monkeys adapted or readapted to the novel forces on each day of the experiment. In the second study, we perturbed the excitability of motor cortex using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as human participants adapted to the forces. From the first experiment, we present qualitative evidence that a network of cortical areas including the supplementary motor area, premotor cortex, and primary motor cortex (M1) not only encodes kinematic and dynamic parameters of motor execution, but also registers changes in encoding that could provide a substrate for motor memory. Based on the second experiment, we qualify the role of M1 in motor memory, by showing that its disruption by rTMS does not interfere with the process of initial motor adaptation, but rather with offline improvement as measured at retest on the following day.