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Seeing is Believing: Effects of Visual Contextual Cues on Learning and Transfer of Locomotor Adaptation

By Torres-Oviedo, Gelsy; Bastian, Amy J.; Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 30, Number 50, pages 17015-17022
Publication Date: December 15, 2010

Study investigated whether removing visual cues improves transfer of the learned walking pattern from the split-belt treadmill to natural walking. Two experiments were designed to test how visual context cues affect transfer on split-belt walking adaptation. In experiment 1, visual feedback was removed in the treadmill training and overground testing environments to assess whether visual context cues could modulate the transfer of adaptation from one situation to another as well as the washout of adaptation when returning to the training environment. In experiment 2, visual feedback was removed in either the training or the testing environment to determine the degree to which the visual context cues during training or testing mediated the transfer and washout of adaptation. Study participants were 39 healthy young adults, of whom 23 were included in experiment 1, and 16 in experiment 2. Removing vision during both training and testing strongly improved the transfer of treadmill adaptation to natural walking. Removing vision only during training increased transfer of temporal adaptation, whereas removing vision only during testing increased the transfer of spatial adaptation. This dissociation reveals differences in adaptive mechanisms for temporal and spatial features of walking. Finally, training without vision increased the amount that was learned and was linked to the variability in the behavior during adaptation. Clinical implications as well as directions of future research are discussed.
Published by: Society for Neuroscience   (Website:

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