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Zacks, O., & Friedman, J. (2020). Analogies can speed up the motor learning process. Sci Rep, 10(1), 6932.
Abstract: Analogies have been shown to improve motor learning in various tasks and settings. In this study we tested whether applying analogies can shorten the motor learning process and induce insight and skill improvement in tasks that usually demand many hours of practice. Kinematic measures were used to quantify participant's skill and learning dynamics. For this purpose, we used a drawing task, in which subjects drew lines to connect dots, and a mirror game, in which subjects tracked a moving stimulus. After establishing a baseline, subjects were given an analogy, explicit instructions or no further instruction. We compared their improvement in skill (quantified by coarticulation or smoothness), accuracy and movement duration. Subjects in the analogy and explicit groups improved their coarticulation in the target task, while significant differences were found in the mirror game only at a slow movement frequency between analogy and controls.We conclude that a verbal analogy can be a useful tool for rapidly changing motor kinematics and movement strategy in some circumstances, although in the tasks selected it did not produce better performance in most measurements than explicit guidance. Furthermore, we observed that different movement facets may improve independently from others, and may be selectively affected by verbal instructions. These results suggest an important role for the type of instruction in motor learning.
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.
Raveh, E., Portnoy, S., & Friedman, J. (2018). Myoelectric Prosthesis Users Improve Performance Time and Accuracy Using Vibrotactile Feedback When Visual Feedback Is Disturbed. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 99(11), 2263–2270.
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of adding vibrotactile feedback (VTF) in myoelectric prosthesis users during performance of a functional task when visual feedback is disturbed. DESIGN: A repeated-measures design with a counter-balanced order of 3 conditions. SETTING: Laboratory setting. PARTICIPANTS: Transradial amputees using a myoelectric prosthesis with normal or corrected eyesight (N=12, median age 65+/-13y). Exclusion criteria were orthopedic or neurologic problems. INTERVENTIONS: All participants performed the modified Box and Blocks Test, grasping and manipulating 16 blocks over a partition using their myoelectric prosthesis. This was performed 3 times: in full light, in a dark room without VTF, and in a dark room with VTF. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Performance time, that is, the time needed to transfer 1 block, and accuracy during performance, measured by number of empty grips, empty transitions with no block and block drops from the hand. RESULTS: Significant differences were found in all outcome measures when VTF was added, with improved performance time (4.2 vs 5.3s) and a reduced number of grasping errors (3.0 vs 6.5 empty grips, 1.5 vs 4 empty transitions, 2.0 vs 4.5 block drops). CONCLUSIONS: Adding VTF to myoelectric prosthesis users has positive effects on performance time and accuracy when visual feedback is disturbed.
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.
Friedman, J., & Korman, M. (2012). Kinematic Strategies Underlying Improvement in the Acquisition of a Sequential Finger Task with Self-Generated vs. Cued Repetition Training. PLoS One, 7(12), e52063.
Abstract: Many motor skills, such as typing, consist of articulating simple movements into novel sequences that are executed faster and smoother with practice. Dynamics of re-organization of these movement sequences with multi-session training and its dependence on the amount of self-regulation of pace during training is not yet fully understood. In this study, participants practiced a sequence of key presses. Training sessions consisted of either externally (Cued) or self-initiated (Uncued) training. Long-term improvements in performance speed were mainly due to reducing gaps between finger movements in both groups, but Uncued training induced higher gains. The underlying kinematic strategies producing these changes and the representation of the trained sequence differed significantly across subjects, although net gains in speed were similar. The differences in long-term memory due to the type of training and the variation in strategies between subjects, suggest that the different neural mechanisms may subserve the improvements observed in overall performance.