Repeatedly performing similar motor acts produces short-term adaptive changes in the agent's motor system. One striking use-dependent effect is the motor-to-visual aftereffect (MVA), a short-lasting negative bias in the conceptual categorization of visually-presented training-related motor behavior. The MVA is considered the behavioral counterpart of the adaptation of visuomotor neurons that code for congruent executed and observed motor acts. Here we characterize which features of the motor training generate the MVA, along 3 main dimensions: a) the relative role of motor acts vs. the semantics of the task-set; b) the role of muscular-specific vs. goal-specific training and c) the spatial frame of reference with respect to the whole body. Participants were asked to repeatedly push or pull some small objects in a bowl as we varied different components of adapting actions across three experiments. The results show that a) the semantic value of the instructions given to the participant have no role in generating the MVA, which depends only on the motor meaning of the training act; b) both intrinsic body movements and extrinsic action goals contribute simultaneously to the genesis of the MVA and c) changes in the relative position of the acting hand compared to the observed hand, when they do not involve changes to the movement performed or to the action meaning, do not have an effect on the MVA. In these series of experiments we confirm that recent motor experiences produce measurable changes in how humans see each others' actions. The MVA is an exquisite motor effect generated by two distinct motor sub-systems, one operating in an intrinsic, muscular specific, frame of reference and the other operating in an extrinsic motor space.
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