People can acquire new walking patterns in many different ways. For example, we can change our gait voluntarily in response to instruction or adapt by sensing our movement errors. Here we investigated how acquisition of a new walking pattern through simultaneous voluntary correction and adaptive learning affected the resulting motor memory of the learned pattern. We studied adaptation to split-belt treadmill walking with and without visual feedback of stepping patterns. As expected, visual feedback enabled faster acquisition of the new walking pattern. However, upon later re-exposure to the same split-belt perturbation, participants exhibited similar motor memories whether they had learned with or without visual feedback. Participants who received feedback did not re-engage the mechanism used to accelerate initial acquisition of the new walking pattern to similarly accelerate subsequent relearning. These findings reveal that voluntary correction neither benefits nor interferes with the ability to save a new walking pattern over time.
Kristan A. Leech and Ryan T. Roemmich