Effects of postural stability on the transfer of learned movement control strategies

We investigated whether stability affects the learning and/or transfer of human postural control strategies. Subjects learned novel postural control strategies in a more stable standing configuration and then transferred to a less stable configuration, or vice versa. Initial learning was not affected by stability. However, transfer of learned control from one context to another was affected by the change in stability between contexts. These results suggest that in rehabilitation it is important to consider the context in which task learning occurs, as well as the context in which the task will be performed in the future.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Neuroscience

Haptic-motor transformations for the control of fingertip distance

Dexterous manipulation relies on modulation of digit forces as a function of digit placement. However, little is known about the sense of position of the finger pads relative to each other. We quantified subjects' ability to match perceived vertical distance between the thumb and index finger pads (dy) of the right hand (“reference” hand, Rhand) using the ipsilateral or contralateral hand (“test” hand, Thand) without vision of the hands. The Rhand digits were passively placed non-collinearly (dy = ±30 mm) or collinearly (dy = 0 mm). Subjects reproduced Rhand dy by using a congruent or inverse Thand posture. We hypothesized that matching error would be greater (a) for collinear than non-collinear digits positions, (b) when Rhand and Thand postures were not congruent, and (c) when subjects reproduced dy using the contralateral hand. Subjects made greater errors when matching collinear than non-collinear dys, when the posture of Thand and Rhand were not congruent, and when Thand was the contralateral hand. Under-estimation errors were produced only for non-collinear digits positions, when the postures of Thand and Rhand were not congruent, and when Thand was the contralateral hand. These findings indicate that perceived finger pad distance is transferred across hands less accurately than when it is reproduced within the hand and reproduced less accurately when a higher-level processing of the somatosensory feedback is required for non-congruent hand postures. We propose that erroneous representation of finger pad distance, if not compensated for between contact and onset of manipulation, might lead to manipulation performance errors.

Listed In: Neuroscience