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Motor Skill Acquisition during a Balance Task as a Process of Optimization of Motor Primitives.

07:00 EST 17th December 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Motor Skill Acquisition during a Balance Task as a Process of Optimization of Motor Primitives."

It has been argued that the central nervous system relies on combining simple movement elements (i.e. motor primitives) to generate complex motor outputs. However, how movement elements are generated and combined during the acquisition of new motor skills is still a source of debate. Herein, we present results providing new insights into the role of movement elements in the acquisition of motor skills that we obtained by analyzing kinematic data collected while healthy subjects learned a new motor task. The task consisted of playing an interactive game using a platform with embedded sensors whose aggregate output was used to control a virtual object in the game. Subjects learned the task over multiple blocks. The analysis of the kinematic data was carried out using a recently developed technique referred to as "movement element decomposition". The technique entails the decomposition of complex multi-dimensional movements in one-dimensional elements marked by a bell-shaped velocity profile. We computed the number of movement elements during each block and measured how closely they matched a theoretical velocity profile derived by minimizing a cost function accounting for the smoothness of movement and the cost of time. The results showed that, in the early stage of motor skill acquisition, two mechanisms underlie the improvement in motor performance: 1) a decrease in the number of movement elements composing the motor output and 2) a gradual change in the movement elements that resulted in a shape matching the velocity profile derived by using the above-mentioned theoretical model.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: The European journal of neuroscience
ISSN: 1460-9568
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