Understanding gait adaptation is essential for rehabilitation, and visual feedback can be used during gait rehabilitation to develop effective gait training. We have previously shown that subjects can adapt spatial aspects of walking to an implicitly imposed distortion of visual feedback of step length. To further investigate the storage benefit of an implicit process engaged in visual feedback distortion, we compared the robustness of aftereffects acquired by visual feedback distortion, versus split-belt treadmill walking. For the visual distortion trial, we implicitly distorted the visual representation of subjects’ gait symmetry, whereas for the split-belt trial, the speed ratio of the two belts was gradually adjusted without visual feedback. After adaptation, the visual feedback or the split-belt perturbation was removed while subjects continued walking, and aftereffects of preserved asymmetric pattern were assessed. We found that subjects trained with visual distortion trial retained aftereffects longest. In response to the larger speed ratio of split-belt walking, the subjects showed an increase in the size of aftereffects compared to the smaller speed ratio, but it steeply decreased over time in all the speed ratios tested. In contrast, the visual distortion group showed much slower decreasing rate of aftereffects, which was evidence of longer storage of an adapted gait pattern. Visual distortion adaptation may involve the interaction and integration of the change in motor strategy and implicit process in sensorimotor adaptation. Although it should be clarified more clearly through further studies, the findings of this study suggest that gait control employs distinct adaptive processes during the visual distortion and split-belt walking and also the level of reliance of an implicit process may be greater in the visual distortion adaptation than the split-belt walking adaptation.
- Gait rehabilitation
- Motor adaptation
- Step length symmetry
- Visual feedback distortion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology