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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.
Keywords: Motor equivalence; Electromyography; Tablet; Occupational Therapy; Muscle fatigue; Motor control
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.
Keywords: learning; interference; consolidation; finger movements; kinematics
Park, J., Pazin, N., Friedman, J., Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Latash, M. L. (2014). Mechanical properties of the human hand digits: Age-related differences. Clinical Biomechanics, 29(2), 129–137.
Mechanical properties of human digits may have significant implications for the hand function. We quantified several mechanical characteristics of individual digits in young and older adults.
Digit tip friction was measured at several normal force values using a method of induced relative motion between the digit tip and the object surface. A modified quick-release paradigm was used to estimate digit apparent stiffness, damping, and inertial parameters. The subjects grasped a vertical handle instrumented with force/moment sensors using a prismatic grasp with four digits; the handle was fixed to the table. Unexpectedly, one of the sensors yielded leading to a quick displacement of the corresponding digit. A second-order, linear model was used to fit the force/displacement data.
Friction of the digit pads was significantly lower in older adults. The apparent stiffness coefficient values were higher while the damping coefficients were lower in older adults leading to lower damping ratio. The damping ratio was above unity for most data in young adults and below unity for older adults. Quick release of a digit led to force changes in other digits of the hand, likely due to inertial hand properties. These phenomena of “mechanical enslaving” were smaller in older adults although no significant difference was found in the inertial parameter in the two groups.
The decreased friction and damping ratio present challenges for the control of everyday prehensile tasks. They may lead to excessive digit forces and low stability of the grasped object.
Keywords: hand; aging; friction; apparent stiffness; damping
Friedman, J., Amiaz, A., & Korman, M. (2022). The online and offline effects of changing movement timing variability during training on a finger-opposition task. Sci Rep, 12(1), 13319.
Abstract: In motor learning tasks, there is mixed evidence for whether increased task-relevant variability in early learning stages leads to improved outcomes. One problem is that there may be a connection between skill level and motor variability, such that participants who initially have more variability may also perform worse on the task, so will have more room to improve. To avoid this confound, we experimentally manipulated the amount of movement timing variability (MTV) during training to test whether it improves performance. Based on previous studies showing that most of the improvement in finger-opposition tasks comes from optimizing the relative onset time of the finger movements, we used auditory cues (beeps) to guide the onset times of sequential movements during a training session, and then assessed motor performance after the intervention. Participants were assigned to three groups that either: (a) followed a prescribed random rhythm for their finger touches (Variable MTV), (b) followed a fixed rhythm (Fixed control MTV), or (c) produced the entire sequence following a single beep (Unsupervised control MTV). While the intervention was successful in increasing MTV during training for the Variable group, it did not lead to improved outcomes post-training compared to either control group, and the use of fixed timing led to significantly worse performance compared to the Unsupervised control group. These results suggest that manipulating MTV through auditory cues does not produce greater learning than unconstrained training in motor sequence tasks.
Keywords: Fingers; Humans; *Learning; *Motor Skills; Movement; Psychomotor Performance; Upper Extremity
Kaufman-Cohen, Y., Portnoy, S., Levanon, Y., & Friedman, J. (2019). Does Object Height Affect the Dart Throwing Motion Angle during Seated Activities of Daily Living? J Mot Behav, , 1–10.
Abstract: Complex wrist motions are needed to complete various daily activities. Analyzing the multidimensional motion of the wrist is crucial for understanding our functional movement. Several studies have shown that numerous activities of daily livings (ADLs) are performed using an oblique plane of wrist motion from radial-extension to ulnar-flexion, named the Dart Throwing Motion (DTM) plane. To the best of our knowledge, the DTM plane angle performed during ADLs has not been compared between different heights (e.g. table, shoulder and head height), as is common when performing day-to-day tasks. In this study, we compared DTM plane angles when performing different ADLs at three different heights and examined the relationship between DTM plane angles and limb position. We found that height had a significant effect on the DTM plane angles – the mean DTM plane angle was greater at the lower level compared to the mid and higher levels. A significant effect of shoulder orientation on mean DTM plane angles was shown in the sagittal and coronal planes. Our findings support the importance of training daily tasks at different heights during rehabilitation following wrist injuries, in order to explore a large range of DTM angles, to accommodate needs of common ADLs.
Keywords: dart throwing motion (DTM); heights; kinematics; seated activities of daily living (ADL); upper extremity; wrist rehabilitation