Methods matter: your measures of explicit and implicit processes in visuomotor adaptation affect your results

Jana Maresch, Susen Werner, Opher Donchin

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Visuomotor rotations are frequently used to study the different processes underlying motor adaptation. Explicit aiming strategies and implicit recalibration are two of these processes. Various methods, which differ in their underlying assumptions, have been used to dissociate the two processes. Direct methods, such as verbal reports, assume explicit knowledge to be verbalizable, where indirect methods, such as the exclusion, assume that explicit knowledge is controllable. The goal of this study was thus to directly compare verbal reporting with exclusion in two different conditions: during consistent reporting and during intermittent reporting. Our results show that our two conditions lead to a dissociation between the measures. In the consistent reporting group, all measures showed similar results. However, in the intermittent reporting group, verbal reporting showed more explicit re‐aiming and less implicit adaptation than exclusion. Curiously, when exclusion was measured again, after the end of learning, the differences were no longer apparent. We suspect this may reflect selective decay in implicit adaptation, as has been reported previously. All told, our results clearly indicate that methods of measurement can affect the amount of explicit re‐aiming and implicit adaptation that is measured. Since it has been previously shown that both explicit re‐aiming and implicit adaptation have multiple components, discrepancies between these different methods may arise because different measures reflect different components.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe European journal of neuroscience
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)504-518
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 01.2021

Research areas and keywords

  • explicit
  • implicit
  • measures
  • methods
  • visuomotor rotation | adaptation | motor adaptation


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