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Motor skill learning decreases motor variability and increases planning horizon

Bashford, Luke and Kobak, Dmitry and Diedrichsen, Joern and Mehring, Carsten (2018) Motor skill learning decreases motor variability and increases planning horizon. . (Unpublished)

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We investigated motor skill learning using a path tracking task, where human subjects had to track various curved paths at a constant speed while maintaining the cursor within the path width. Subjects' accuracy increased with practice, even when tracking novel untrained paths. Using a 'searchlight' paradigm, where only a short segment of the path ahead of the cursor was shown, we found that subjects with a higher tracking skill differed from the novice subjects in two respects. First, they had lower motor variability, in agreement with previous findings. Second, they took a longer section of the future path into account when performing the task, i.e. had a longer planning horizon. We estimate that between one third and one half of the performance increase was due to the increase in planning horizon. An optimal control model with a fixed horizon (receding horizon control) that increases with tracking skill quantitatively captured the subjects' movement behaviour. These findings demonstrate that human subjects not only increase their motor acuity but also their planning horizon when acquiring a motor skill.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Bashford, Luke0000-0003-4391-2491
Kobak, Dmitry0000-0002-5639-7209
Mehring, Carsten0000-0001-8125-5205
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license. The study was in parts supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) grant 01GQ0830 to BFNT Freiburg-Tübingen. The authors acknowledge support by the state of Baden-Württemberg through bwHPC and the German Research Foundation (DFG) through grant no INST 39/963-1 FUGG. The authors also thank the ‘Struktur- und Innovationsfonds Baden-Württemberg (SI-BW)” of the state of Baden-Württemberg for funding. Author Contribution. Conceptualization, LB. DK. and CM; Methodology, LB. DK. JD and CM; Formal Analysis, 785 LB. DK and CM; Writing – Original Draft, LB. DK and CM; Writing – Review and Editing, 786 LB, DK, JD and CM.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)01GQ0830
State of Baden-WürttembergUNSPECIFIED
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)39/963-1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201105-160425863
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Official Citation:Motor skill learning decreases motor variability and increases planning horizon Luke Bashford, Dmitry Kobak, Joern Diedrichsen, Carsten Mehring bioRxiv 505198; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106468
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:06 Nov 2020 16:06
Last Modified:06 Nov 2020 16:06

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