Humans have a flexible motor ability to adapt their movements to changes in the internal/external environment. For example, using arm-reaching tasks, a number of studies experimentally showed that participants adapt to a novel visuomotor environment. These results helped develop computational models of motor learning implemented in the central nervous system. Despite the importance of such experimental paradigms for exploring the mechanisms of motor learning, because of the cost and preparation time, most students are unable to participate in such experiments. Therefore, in the current study, to help students better understand motor learning theories, we developed a simple finger-reaching experimental system using commonly used laptop PC components with an open-source programming language (Processing Motor Learning Toolkit: PMLT). We found that compared to a commercially available robotic arm-reaching device, our PMLT accomplished similar learning goals (difference in the error reduction between the devices, P = 0.10). In addition, consistent with previous reports from visuomotor learning studies, the participants showed after-effects indicating an adaptation of the motor learning system. The results suggest that PMLT can serve as a new experimental system for an undergraduate laboratory exercise of motor learning theories with minimal time and cost for instructors.
|Journal||Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education|
|Publication status||Published - 2014 Jan 1|
- Error-based learning
- Implicit learning mechanism
- Reaching movement
- Visuomotor rotation
ASJC Scopus subject areas