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Real-world neuroscience experiments show diversity in learning new motor skills | Imperial News

Researchers at Imperial College London have shown how the whole body changes while learning new movement-based skills.

We have found that when you learn a new skillful skill, every part of the body learns. Professor Aldo Fayçal Department of Bioengineering

Using a new, data-driven approach to analyze whole-body movements during real-world motor learning, the researchers both demonstrated whole-body involvement in the learning process and identified the joint movement key to learning. The approach and subsequent results underscore the importance of studying human neuroscience in nature – and how this might help strengthen research on movement disorders and rehabilitation.

Play billiards; analyze the movement

Experiments in neuroscience, which study the brain and nervous system, are usually carried out in the laboratory. However, this is not necessarily the best way to study neuroscience, as laboratory conditions may not accurately reflect the real world environment.

Today, Professor Aldo Faisal and Dr Shlomi Haar of the Imperial’s Brain and Behavior Lab brought neuroscience to the real world by using billiards to understand how people acquire motor skills using all the parts of their body.

To do this, the researchers placed sensors on the bodies of 30 people who were learning to play billiards for the first time. The sensors recorded the movements of the limbs and torso, and their data was uploaded to a computer for analysis.

The data helped researchers reconstruct the movement of the entire skeleton as an avatar. This not only enabled full body visualization, but also enabled precise analysis of movement in each joint as well as holistic movement, or the whole body.By measuring the movements of the whole body, they found that learning is done from head to toe: although the main movement was in the elbow of the arm holding the wand, as you would expect with billiards. , the whole body has also changed and improved its motor skills. learning. This data-driven approach to neuroscience adds more detail to what we know about motor learning, demonstrating that it is a full body experience.

Learn with the whole body

Principal Investigator Prof. Aldo Faisal from the Computer Science and Bioengineering Departments said: “The learning pool does not require pre-existing technical expertise, so this was a good way to measure how humans acquire a new skill. We have found that when you learn a new skillful skill, every part of the body learns.

The data also showed that learning mechanisms vary from person to person and that, just like learning in school, each person learns motor control in a different way. Of the 30 participants performing the same task, it was clear that there were two types of learners who used different learning mechanisms.

Professor Faisal said: “Each of these participants had a predominant learning method. It is only once we introduce topics with the complexity of the real world that we see that each person is different and see what different mechanisms come out of it. “

Real world applications

This hands-on approach to neuroscience shows that we don’t have to manipulate the world to find what we’re looking for. Dr Shlomi Haar Department of Brain Sciences

The researchers say their findings add to the knowledge we have about how the body learns to move, and also how the body might relearn to move after a stroke. This wild and more natural approach to neuroscience could help bridge the gap between the real world and classic motor control experiments in the laboratory.

Understanding how learning takes place between joints and throughout the body has the potential for translation into learning for rehabilitation, as well as in sports science. For example, researchers show that during swimming pool learning, learning is fastest in the shoulder, but it takes movements in the elbow and even more in the wrist. This fits well with the known phenomena of stroke recovery where the movement of the shoulder is the first to recover and the individual fingers are the last. Likewise, when learning to play sports, people first learn to optimize body maneuvers, and then detailed techniques.

Co-author Dr Shlomi Haar, Imperial’s Brain Sciences Department, said: “This real-life approach to neuroscience shows that we don’t have to manipulate the world to find what we’re looking for. Instead, we can observe the world and extract a sense of people’s movements and brain activity as they perform their tasks in the real world and display free behavior.

“The way the data unfolded was telling stories – stories about learning through the body and stories about different learning mechanisms. It demonstrates the value of testing in the real world.

This work is part of a larger project on motor learning skills in the real world. These studies include studying brain activity while learning real-world tasks and using virtual reality to embody motor learning.

This research was funded by the Royal Society-Kohn International Fellowship and eNHANCE under the Horizon program of the European Union.

Read the full article on Scientific reports on nature: Motor learning in real world billiards

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