An internal model is a neural mechanism that mimics the dynamics of an object for sensory motor or cognitive functions. Recent research focuses on the issue of whether multiple internal models are learned and switched to cope with a variety of conditions, or single general models are adapted by tuning the parameters. Here we addressed this issue by investigating how the manual interception of a moving target changes with changes of the visual environment. In our paradigm, a virtual target moves vertically downward on a screen with different laws of motion. Subjects are asked to punch a hidden ball that arrives in synchrony with the visual target. By using several different protocols, we systematically found that subjects do not develop a new internal model appropriate for constant speed targets, but they use the default gravity model and reduce the central processing time. The results imply that adaptation to zero-gravity targets involves a compression of temporal processing through the cortical and subcortical regions interconnected with the vestibular cortex, which has previously been shown to be the site of storage of the internal model of gravity.
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