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J Physiol Paris. 2009 Sep-Dec;103(3-5):276-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2009.08.010. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

Influence of haptic guidance in learning a novel visuomotor task.

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MIRA, Faculty of Engineering Technology, Dept. of Biomechanical Engineering, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.


In (re)learning of movements, haptic guidance can be used to direct the needed adaptations in motor control. Haptic guidance influences the main driving factors of motor adaptation, execution error, and control effort in different ways. Human-control effort is dissipated in the interactions that occur during haptic guidance. Minimizing the control effort would reduce the interaction forces and result in adaptation. However, guidance also decreases the magnitude of the execution errors, which could inhibit motor adaptation. The aim of this study was to assess how different types of haptic guidance affect kinematic adaptation in a novel visuomotor task. Five groups of subjects adapted to a reaching task in which the visual representation of the hand was rotated 30 degrees. Each group was guided by a different force field. The force fields differed in magnitude and direction in order to discern the adaptation based on execution errors and control effort. The results demonstrated that the execution error did indeed play a key role in adaptation. The more the guiding forces restricted the occurrence of execution errors, the smaller the amount and rate of adaptation. However, the force field that enlarged the execution errors did not result in an increased rate of adaptation. The presence of a small amount of adaptation in the groups who did not experience execution errors during training suggested that adaptation could be driven on a much slower rate and on the basis of minimization of control effort as was evidenced by a gradual decrease of the interaction forces during training. Remarkably, also in the group in which the subjects were passive and completely guided, a small but significant adaptation occurred. The conclusion is that both minimization of execution errors and control effort drives kinematic adaptation in a novel visuomotor task, but the latter at a much slower rate.

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