The decay and consolidation of effector-independent motor memories. Academic Article uri icon


  • Learning a motor adaptation task produces intrinsically unstable or transient motor memories. Despite the presence of effector-independent motor memories following the learning of novel environmental dynamics, it remains largely unknown how those memory traces decay in different contexts and whether an "offline" consolidation period protects memories against decay. Here, we exploit inter-effector transfer to address these questions. We found that newly acquired motor memories formed with one effector could be partially retrieved by the untrained effector to enhance its performance when the decay occurred with the passage of time or "washout" trials on which error feedback was provided. The decay of motor memories was slower following "error-free" trials, on which errors were artificially clamped to zero or removed, compared with "washout" trials. However, effector-independent memory components were abolished following movements made in the absence of task errors, resulting in no transfer gains. The brain can stabilize motor memories during daytime wakefulness. We found that 6h of wakeful resting increased the resistance of effector-independent memories to decay. Collectively, our results suggest that the decay of effector-independent motor memories is context-dependent, and offline processing preserves those memories against decay, leading to improvements of the subsequent inter-effector transfer.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Bao, S., Wang, J., Wright, D. L., Buchanan, J. J., & Lei, Y.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Bao, Shancheng||Wang, Jinsung||Wright, David L||Buchanan, John J||Lei, Yuming

publication date

  • January 2022