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Experimental Brain Research







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Transfer, in which capability acquired in one situation influences performance in another is considered, along with retention, as demonstrative of effectual learning. In this regard, interlimb transfer of functional capacity has commanded particular attention as a means of gauging the generalisation of acquired capability. Both theoretical treatments and prior empirical studies suggest that the successful accomplishment of a physical training regime is required to bring about generalised changes that extend to the untrained limb. In the present study, we pose the following question: Does interlimb transfer occur if and only if the training movements are executed? We report findings from JG—an individual recruited to a larger scale trial, who presented with (unilateral) deficits of motor control. We examined whether changes in the performance of the untrained right limb arose following practice undertaken by the impaired left limb, wherein the majority of JG’s attempts to execute the training task were unsuccessful. Comparison was made with a group of “control” participants drawn from the main trial, who did not practice the task. For JG, substantial gains in the performance of the untrained limb (registered 3 days, 10 days and 1 year following training) indicated that effective learning had occurred. Learning was, however, expressed principally when the unimpaired (i.e. untrained) limb was utilised to perform the task. When the impaired limb was used, marked deficiencies in movement execution remained prominent throughout.

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