Anisha Chandy L&S Sciences
The Effect of Deafferentation on the Sensorimotor System
Motor learning – the process of acquiring skilled movements – helps us learn to kick a ball and play piano. Among the many processes that enable motor learning, motor adaptation is of primary importance, enabling us to readily respond to changes in the body (e.g., muscle fatigue) and environment (e.g., a heavy jacket). A large body of work has emphasized how motor adaptation is driven by visual signals; however, the role of proprioception – one’s awareness about the location of the body – has been largely neglected. To fill this gap in the literature, I will examine the role of proprioception on motor adaptation. Through behavioral experiments (in-person and online), as well as a meta-analysis of the literature, I will compare motor performance between patients without proprioception – also known as deafferentation, an extremely rare neurological condition – with those of age-matched controls. These results will not only reveal how sensory constraints enable successful motor learning, but also inform how future brain computer interfaces could be designed to accelerate motor recovery in patients with neurological disorders.