Previous studies on sensorimotor adaptation revealed no awareness of the nature of the perturbation after adaptation to an abrupt 30° rotation of visual feedback or after adaptation to gradually introduced perturbations. Whether the degree of awareness depends on the magnitude of the perturbation, though, has as yet not been tested. Instead of using questionnaires, as was often done in previous work, the present study used a process dissociation procedure to measure awareness and unawareness. A naïve, implicit group and a group of subjects using explicit strategies adapted to 20°, 40° and 60° cursor rotations in different adaptation blocks that were each followed by determination of awareness and unawareness indices. The awareness index differed between groups and increased from 20° to 60° adaptation. In contrast, there was no group difference for the unawareness index, but it also depended on the size of the rotation. Early adaptation varied between groups and correlated with awareness: The more awareness a participant had developed the more the person adapted in the beginning of the adaptation block. In addition, there was a significant group difference for savings but it did not correlate with awareness. Our findings suggest that awareness depends on perturbation size and that aware and strategic processes are differentially involved during adaptation and savings. Moreover, the use of the process dissociation procedure opens the opportunity to determine awareness and unawareness indices in future sensorimotor adaptation research.
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