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Noy, L., Alon, U., & Friedman, J. (2015). Corrective jitter motion shows similar individual frequencies for the arm and the finger. Exp Brain Res, 233(4), 1307–1320.
Abstract: A characteristic of visuomotor tracking of non-regular oscillating stimuli are high-frequency jittery corrective motions, oscillating around the tracked stimuli. However, the properties of these corrective jitter responses are not well understood. For example, does the jitter response show an idiosyncratic signature? What is the relationship between stimuli properties and jitter properties? Is the jitter response similar across effectors with different inertial properties? To answer these questions, we measured participants' jitter frequencies in two tracking tasks in the arm and the finger. Thirty participants tracked the same set of eleven non-regular oscillating stimuli, vertically moving on a screen, once with forward-backward arm movements (holding a tablet stylus) and once with upward-downward index finger movements (with a motion tracker attached). Participants' jitter frequencies and tracking errors varied systematically as a function of stimuli frequency and amplitude. Additionally, there were clear individual differences in average jitter frequencies between participants, ranging from 0.7 to 1.15 Hz, similar to values reported previously. A comparison of individual jitter frequencies in the two tasks showed a strong correlation between participants' jitter frequencies in the finger and the arm, despite the very different inertial properties of the two effectors. This result suggests that the corrective jitter response stems from common neural processes.
Portnoy, S., Rosenberg, L., Alazraki, T., Elyakim, E., & Friedman, J. (2015). Differences in Muscle Activity Patterns and Graphical Product Quality in Children Copying and Tracing Activities on Horizontal or Vertical Surfaces. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 25(3), 540�547.
Abstract: The observation that a given task, e.g. producing a signature, looks similar when created by different motor commands and different muscles groups is known as motor equivalence. Relatively little data exists regarding the characteristics of motor equivalence in children. In this study, we compared the level of performance when performing a tracing task and copying figures in two common postures: while sitting at a desk and while standing in front of a wall, among preschool children. In addition, we compared muscle activity patterns in both postures. Specifically, we compared the movements of 35 five- to six-year old children, recording the same movements of copying figures and path tracing on an electronic tablet in both a horizontal orientation, while sitting, and a vertical orientation, while standing. Different muscle activation patterns were observed between the postures, however no significant difference in the performance level was found, providing evidence of motor equivalence at this young age. The study presents a straightforward method of assessing motor equivalence that can be extended to other stages of development as well as motor disorders.
Zopf, R., Friedman, J., & Williams, M. A. (2015). The plausibility of visual information for hand ownership modulates multisensory synchrony perception. Experimental Brain Research, 233(8), 2311–2321.
Abstract: We are frequently changing the position of our bodies and body parts within complex environments. How does the brain keep track of one’s own body? Current models of body ownership state that visual body ownership cues such as viewed object form and orientation are combined with multisensory information to correctly identify one’s own body, estimate its current location and evoke an experience of body ownership. Within this framework, it may be possible that the brain relies on a separate perceptual analysis of body ownership cues (e.g. form, orientation, multisensory synchrony). Alternatively, these cues may interact in earlier stages of perceptual processing—visually derived body form and orientation cues may, for example, directly modulate temporal synchrony perception. The aim of the present study was to distinguish between these two alternatives. We employed a virtual hand set-up and psychophysical methods. In a two-interval force-choice task, participants were asked to detect temporal delays between executed index finger movements and observed movements. We found that body-specifying cues interact in perceptual processing. Specifically, we show that plausible visual information (both form and orientation) for one’s own body led to significantly better detection performance for small multisensory asynchronies compared to implausible visual information. We suggest that this perceptual modulation when visual information plausible for one’s own body is present is a consequence of body-specific sensory predictions.
Awasthi, B., Williams, M. A., & Friedman, J. (2016). Examining the role of red background in magnocellular contribution to face perception. PeerJ, 4, e1617.
Abstract: This study examines the role of the magnocellular system in the early stages of face perception, in particular sex categorization. Utilizing the specific property of magnocellular suppression in red light, we investigated visually guided reaching to low and high spatial frequency hybrid faces against red and grey backgrounds. The arm movement curvature measure shows that reduced response of the magnocellular pathway interferes with the low spatial frequency component of face perception. This finding provides behavioral evidence for magnocellular contribution to non-emotional aspect of face perception.
Friedman, J., & Korman, M. (2016). Offline Optimization of the Relative Timing of Movements in a Sequence Is Blocked by Retroactive Behavioral Interference. Front. Hum. Neurosci., 10, 623.
Abstract: Acquisition of motor skills often involves the concatenation of single movements into sequences. Along the course of learning, sequential performance becomes progressively faster and smoother, presumably by optimization of both motor planning and motor execution. Following its encoding during training, “how-to” memory undergoes consolidation, reflecting transformations in performance and its neurobiological underpinnings over time. This offline post-training memory process is characterized by two phenomena: reduced sensitivity to interference and the emergence of delayed, typically overnight, gains in performance. Here, using a training protocol that effectively induces motor sequence memory consolidation, we tested temporal and kinematic parameters of performance within (online) and between (offline) sessions, and their sensitivity to retroactive interference. One group learned a given finger-to-thumb opposition sequence (FOS), and showed robust delayed (consolidation) gains in the number of correct sequences performed at 24 h. A second group learned an additional (interference) FOS shortly after the first and did not show delayed gains. Reduction of touch times and inter-movement intervals significantly contributed to the overall offline improvement of performance overnight. However, only the offline inter-movement interval shortening was selectively blocked by the interference experience. Velocity and amplitude, comprising movement time, also significantly changed across the consolidation period but were interference-insensitive. Moreover, they paradoxically canceled out each other. Current results suggest that shifts in the representation of the trained sequence are subserved by multiple processes: from distinct changes in kinematic characteristics of individual finger movements to high-level, temporal reorganization of the movements as a unit. Each of these processes has a distinct time course and a specific susceptibility to retroactive interference. This multiple-component view may bridge the gap in understanding the link between the behavioral changes, which define online and offline learning, and the biological mechanisms that support those changes.