Memory formation in reach adaptation

Thursday 30 May 2024, 10:30 am
PhD student
J.L. Rudolph MSc.
prof. dr. W.P. Medendorp
dr. ing. L.P.J. Selen

We live in an ever-changing environment. While we are able to successfully change the radio channel from the passenger seat of a driving car on cruise control, our reach will fall short if the driver decides to accelerate during the reach. This is due to your body’s inertia. To detect changes in our environment, we make predictions about the outcome of our actions and compare them to the actual ones. We only have to take permanent discrepancies into account in our behaviors for which we either form new motor memories or adjust existing ones, a process called motor adaptation. In this thesis I show that exposure to an unexpected, but naturalistic, Coriolis force, involves different adaptation of motor memory than exposure to a more artificial force field generated by a robotic interface. Furthermore, I show individual differences in the generalization of the underlying time scales of motor memories to novel conditions. Finally, I show that declarative memory tasks, like word learning, only partially interfere with adaptation of motor memory suggesting that they are mainly encoded independently. With this, my thesis deepens the understanding of how the human brain forms and exploits memories during motor learning and control. 

Judith Lore Rudolph (1991) obtained her Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University in 2017. Subsequently, she joined the sensorimotor lab at the Donders Centre for Cognition to pursue her academic career as a PhD candidate. Since 2023 she is working as a Postdoc at the sensorimotor lab and a lecturer at the Artificial Intelligence department.