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Limited Transfer of Newly Acquired Movement Patterns across Walking and Running in Humans

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046349
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Anatomy And Physiology
  • Neurological System
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neuroscience
  • Neurophysiology
  • Motor Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Medicine
  • Central Nervous System
  • Sports And Exercise Medicine


The two major modes of locomotion in humans, walking and running, may be regarded as a function of different speed (walking as slower and running as faster). Recent results using motor learning tasks in humans, as well as more direct evidence from animal models, advocate for independence in the neural control mechanisms underlying different locomotion tasks. In the current study, we investigated the possible independence of the neural mechanisms underlying human walking and running. Subjects were tested on a split-belt treadmill and adapted to walking or running on an asymmetrically driven treadmill surface. Despite the acquisition of asymmetrical movement patterns in the respective modes, the emergence of asymmetrical movement patterns in the subsequent trials was evident only within the same modes (walking after learning to walk and running after learning to run) and only partial in the opposite modes (walking after learning to run and running after learning to walk) (thus transferred only limitedly across the modes). Further, the storage of the acquired movement pattern in each mode was maintained independently of the opposite mode. Combined, these results provide indirect evidence for independence in the neural control mechanisms underlying the two locomotive modes.

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