Learning to stand with sensorimotor delays generalizes across directions and from hand to leg effectors

Brandon G. Rasman, Jean Sébastien Blouin, Amin M. Nasrabadi, Remco van Woerkom, Maarten A. Frens, Patrick A. Forbes*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Humans receive sensory information from the past, requiring the brain to overcome delays to perform daily motor skills such as standing upright. Because delays vary throughout the body and change over a lifetime, it would be advantageous to generalize learned control policies of balancing with delays across contexts. However, not all forms of learning generalize. Here, we use a robotic simulator to impose delays into human balance. When delays are imposed in one direction of standing, participants are initially unstable but relearn to balance by reducing the variability of their motor actions and transfer balance improvements to untrained directions. Upon returning to normal standing, aftereffects from learning are observed as small oscillations in control, yet they do not destabilize balance. Remarkably, when participants train to balance with delays using their hand, learning transfers to standing with the legs. Our findings establish that humans use experience to broadly update their neural control to balance with delays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number384
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2024

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