Distortions of the Efferent Copy during Force Perception: A Study of Force Drifts and Effects of Muscle Vibration

Cristian Cuadra, Jacob Corey, Mark L. Latash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We used a finger force matching task to explore the role of efferent signals in force perception. Healthy, young participants performed accurate force production tasks at different force levels with the index and middle fingers of one hand (task-hand). They received visual feedback during an early part of each trial only. After the feedback was turned off, the force drifted toward lower magnitudes. After 5 s of the drift, the participants matched the force with the same finger pair of the other hand (match-hand). The match-hand consistently overshot the task-hand force by a magnitude invariant over the initial force levels. During force matching, both hands were lifted and lowered smoothly to estimate their referent coordinate (RC) and apparent stiffness values. These trials were performed without muscle vibration and under vibration applied to the finger/hand flexors or extensors of the task-hand or match-hand. Effects of vibration were seen in the match-hand only; they were the same during vibration of flexors and extensors. We interpret the vibration-induced effects as consequences of using distorted copies of the central commands to the task-hand during force matching. In particular, using distorted copies of the RC for the antagonist muscle group could account for the differences between the task-hand and match-hand. We conclude that efferent signals may be distorted before their participation in the perceptual process. Such distortions emerge spontaneously and may be amplified by the response of sensory endings to muscle vibration combined over both agonist and antagonist muscle groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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