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Friedman, J., & Korman, M. (2019). Observation of an expert model induces a skilled movement coordination pattern in a single session of intermittent practice. Sci Rep, 9(1), 4609.
Abstract: We tested how observation of a skilled pattern of planar movements can assist in the learning of a new motor skill, which otherwise requires rigorous long-term practice to achieve fast and smooth performance. Sixty participants performed a sequence of planar hand movements on pre-test, acquisition, post-test and 24 h post-training blocks, under 1 of 4 conditions: an observation group (OG), a slowed observation group (SOG), a random motion control group (RMCG) and a double physical training control group (DPTCG). The OG and SOG observed an expert model's right hand performing the study task intermittently throughout acquisition, RMCG observed random dots movement instead of a model. Participants in the DPTCG received extra physical practice trials instead of the visually observed trials. Kinematic analysis revealed that only in conditions with observation of an expert model there was an instant robust improvement in motor planning of the task. This step-wise improvement was not only persistent in post-training retests but was also apparently implicit and subject to further incremental improvements in movement strategy over the period of 24 hours. The rapid change in motor strategy was accompanied by a transient within-session increase in spatial error for the observation groups, but this went away by 24 h post-training. We suggest that observation of hand movements of an expert model coaligned with self-produced movements during training can significantly condense the time-course of ecologically relevant drawing/writing skill mastery.
Shaklai, S., Mimouni-Bloch, A., Levin, M., & Friedman, J. (2017). Development of finger force coordination in children. Experimental Brain Research, 235(12), 3709–3720.
Abstract: Coordination is often observed as body parts moving together. However, when producing force with multiple fingers, the optimal coordination is not to produce similar forces with each finger, but rather for each finger to correct mistakes of other fingers. In this study, we aim to determine whether and how this skill develops in children aged 4-12 years. We measured this sort of coordination using the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis (UCM). We recorded finger forces produced by 60 typically developing children aged between 4 and 12 years in a finger-pressing task. The children controlled the height of an object on a screen by the total amount of force they produced on force sensors. We found that the synergy index, a measure of the relationship between “good” and “bad” variance, increased linearly as a function of age. This improvement was achieved by a selective reduction in “bad” variance rather than an increase in “good” variance. We did not observe differences between males and females, and the synergy index was not able to predict outcomes of upper limb behavioral tests after controlling for age. As children develop between the ages of 4 and 12 years, their ability to produce negative covariation between their finger forces improves, likely related to their improved ability to perform dexterous tasks.
Dempsey-Jones, H., Wesselink, D. B., Friedman, J., & Makin, T. R. (2019). Organized Toe Maps in Extreme Foot Users. Cell Reports, 28(11), 2748–2756.e4.
Abstract: Although the fine-grained features of topographic maps in the somatosensory cortex can be shaped by everyday experience, it is unknown whether behavior can support the expression of somatotopic maps where they do not typically occur. Unlike the fingers, represented in all primates, individuated toe maps have only been found in non-human primates. Using 1-mm resolution fMRI, we identify organized toe maps in two individuals born without either upper limb who use their feet to substitute missing hand function and even support their profession as foot artists. We demonstrate that the ordering and structure of the artists’ toe representation mimics typical hand representation. We further reveal “hand-like” features of activity patterns, not only in the foot area but also similarly in the missing hand area. We suggest humans may have an innate capacity for forming additional topographic maps that can be expressed with appropriate experience.
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.
Raveh, E., Friedman, J., & Portnoy, S. (2018). Evaluation of the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback to myoelectric prosthesis users on performance and visual attention in a dual-task paradigm. Clin Rehabil, 99(11), 2263–2270.
Abstract: Objective: To evaluate the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback to myoelectric prosthesis users on the performance time and visual attention in a dual-task paradigm.
Design: A repeated-measures design with a counterbalanced order of two conditions.
Setting: Laboratory setting.
Subjects: Transradial amputees using a myoelectric prosthesis with normal or corrected eyesight (N=12, median age=65 ± 13 years). Exclusion criteria were orthopedic or neurologic problems.
Interventions: Subjects performed grasping tasks with their prosthesis, while controlling a virtual car on a road with their intact hand. The dual task was performed twice: with and without vibrotactile feedback.
Main measures: Performance time of each of the grasping tasks and gaze behavior, measured by the number of times the subjects shifted their gaze toward their hand, the relative time they applied their attention to the screen, and percentage of error in the secondary task.
Results: The mean performance time was significantly shorter (P=0.024) when using vibrotactile feedback (93.2 ± 9.6 seconds) compared with the performance time measured when vibrotactile feedback was not available (107.8 ± 20.3seconds). No significant differences were found between the two conditions in the number of times the gaze shifted from the screen to the hand, in the time the subjects applied their attention to the screen, and in the time the virtual car was off-road, as a percentage of the total game time
(51.4 ± 15.7 and 50.2 ± 19.5, respectively).
Conclusion: Adding vibrotactile feedback improved performance time during grasping in a dual-task paradigm. Prosthesis users may use vibrotactile feedback to perform better during daily tasks, when multiple cognitive demands are present.