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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.
Liebermann, D. G., Berman, S., Weiss, P. L. T., & Levin, M. F. (2012). Kinematics of reaching movements in a 2-d virtual environment in adults with and without stroke. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng, 20(6), 778–787.
Abstract: Virtual reality environments are increasingly being used for upper limb rehabilitation in poststroke patients. Our goal was to determine if arm reaching movements made in a 2-D video-capture virtual reality environment are similar to those made in a comparable physical environment. We compared arm and trunk kinematics for reaches made with the right, dominant arm to three targets (14 trials per target) in both environments by 16 adults with right poststroke hemiparesis and by eight healthy age-matched controls. Movement kinematics were recorded with a three-camera optoelectronic system at 100 samples/s. Reaching movements made by both control and stroke subjects were affected by viewing the targets in the video-capture 2-D virtual environment. Movements were slower, shorter, less straight, less accurate and involved smaller ranges of shoulder and elbow joint excursions for target reaches in the virtual environment compared to the physical environment in all subjects. Thus, there was a decrease in the overall movement quality for movements made in the 2-D virtual environment. This suggests that 2-D video-capture virtual reality environments should be used with caution when the goal of the rehabilitation program is to improve the quality of movement patterns of the upper limb.
Awasthi, B., Friedman, J., & Williams, M. A. (2012). Reach Trajectories Reveal Delayed Processing of Low Spatial Frequency Faces in Developmental Prosopagnosia. Cognitive Neuroscience, 3(2), 120–130.
Abstract: Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is characterized by a selective deficit in face recognition despite normal cognitive and neurological functioning. Previous research has established configural processing deficits in DP subjects. Low spatial frequency (LSF) information subserves configural face processing. Using hybrid stimuli, here we examined the evolution of perceptual dynamics and integration of LSF information by DP subjects while they pointed to high spatial frequency (HSF) face targets. Permutation analysis revealed a 230-ms delay in LSF processing by DP subjects as compared to controls. This delayed processing is likely to contribute to the difficulties associated with face recognition in DP subjects and is reflective of their alleged reliance on local rather than global features in face perception. These results suggest that quick and efficient processing of LSF information is critical for the development of normal face perception.
Mindy F. Levin, Osnat Snir, Dario G. Liebermann, Harold Weingarden, & Patrice L. Weiss. (2012). Virtual Reality Versus Conventional Treatment of Reaching Ability in Chronic Stroke: Clinical Feasibility Study. Neurology and Therapy, 1(3), 1–15.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of exercises performed in a 2D video-capture virtual reality (VR) training environment to improve upper limb motor ability in stroke patients compared to those performed in conventional therapy.
A small sample randomized control trial, in an outpatient rehabilitation center with 12 patients with chronic stroke, aged 33–80 years, who were randomly allocated to video-capture VR therapy and conventional therapy groups. All patients participated in four clinical evaluation sessions (pre-test 1, pre-test 2, post-test, follow-up) and nine 45-minute intervention sessions over a 3-week period. Main outcomes assessed were Body Structure and Function (impairment: Fugl–Meyer Assessment [FMA]; Composite Spasticity Index [CSI]; Reaching Performance Scale for Stroke), Activity (Box and Blocks; Wolf Motor Function Test [WMFT]), and Participation (Motor Activity Log) levels of the International Classification of Functioning.
Improvements occurred in both groups, but more patients in the VR group improved upper limb clinical impairment (FMA, CSI) and activity scores (WMFT) and improvements occurred earlier. Patients in the VR group also reported satisfaction with the novel treatment.
The modest advantage of VR over conventional training supports further investigation of the effect of video-capture VR or VR combined with conventional therapy in larger-scale randomized, more intense controlled studies.