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Can Startle Elicit Sequential Movements in Highly Trained Individuals?

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Most daily living tasks consist of pairing a series of sequential movements, e.g., reaching to a cup, grabbing the cup, lifting and returning the cup to your mouth. The process by which we control and mediate the smooth progression of

Most daily living tasks consist of pairing a series of sequential movements, e.g., reaching to a cup, grabbing the cup, lifting and returning the cup to your mouth. The process by which we control and mediate the smooth progression of these tasks is not well understood. One method which we can use to further evaluate these motions is known as Startle Evoked Movements (SEM). SEM is an established technique to probe the motor learning and planning processes by detecting muscle activation of the sternocleidomastoid muscles of the neck prior to 120ms after a startling stimulus is presented. If activation of these muscles was detected following a stimulus in the 120ms window, the movement is classified as Startle+ whereas if no sternocleidomastoid activation is detected after a stimulus in the allotted time the movement is considered Startle-. For a movement to be considered SEM, the activation of movements for Startle+ trials must be faster than the activation of Startle- trials. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect that expertise has on sequential movements as well as determining if startle can distinguish when the consolidation of actions, known as chunking, has occurred. We hypothesized that SEM could distinguish words that were solidified or chunked. Specifically, SEM would be present when expert typists were asked to type a common word but not during uncommon letter combinations. The results from this study indicated that the only word that was susceptible to SEM, where Startle+ trials were initiated faster than Startle-, was an uncommon task "HET" while the common words "AND" and "THE" were not. Additionally, the evaluation of the differences between each keystroke for common and uncommon words showed that Startle was unable to distinguish differences in motor chunking between Startle+ and Startle- trials. Explanations into why these results were observed could be related to hand dominance in expert typists. No proper research has been conducted to evaluate the susceptibility of the non-dominant hand's fingers to SEM, and the results of future studies into this as well as the results from this study can impact our understanding of sequential movements.

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2018-05

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Startle can evoke individuated movements of the fingers; implications for neural control

Description

Startle-evoked-movement (SEM), the involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus, has gained significant attention recently for its ability to probe motor planning as well as enhance movement of the upper extremity following stroke. We recently showed that

Startle-evoked-movement (SEM), the involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus, has gained significant attention recently for its ability to probe motor planning as well as enhance movement of the upper extremity following stroke. We recently showed that hand movements are susceptible to SEM. Interestingly, only coordinated movements of the hand (grasp) but not individuated movements of the finger (finger abduction) were susceptible. It was suggested that this resulted from different neural mechanisms involved in each task; however it is possible this was the result of task familiarity. The objective of this study was to evaluate a more familiar individuated finger movement, typing, to determine if this task was susceptible to SEM. We hypothesized that typing movements will be susceptible to SEM in all fingers. These results indicate that individuated movements of the fingers are susceptible to SEM when the task involves a more familiar task, since the electromyogram (EMG) latency is faster in SCM+ trials compared to SCM- trials. However, the middle finger does not show a difference in terms of the keystroke voltage signal, suggesting the middle finger is less susceptible to SEM. Given that SEM is thought to be mediated by the brainstem, specifically the reticulospinal tract, this suggest that the brainstem may play a role in movements of the distal limb when those movements are very familiar, and the independence of each finger might also have a significant on the effect of SEM. Further research includes understanding SEM in fingers in the stroke population. The implications of this research can impact the way upper extremity rehabilitation is delivered.

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2016-12

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The Role of Retention and Forgetting in Context Dependent Sensorimotor Memory of Dexterous Manipulation

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The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to

The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to lift the same object in the opposite context relative to that experience on the last block. On each context switch, an interference of the previous block of trials was found resulting in manipulation errors (object tilt). However, no significant re-learning was found two weeks later for the first block of trials (p = 0.826), indicating that the previously observed interference among contexts lasted a very short time. Interestingly, upon switching to the other context, sensorimotor memories again interfered with visually-based planning. This means that the memory of lifting in the first context somehow blocked the memory of lifting in the second context. In addition, the performance in the first trial two weeks later and the previous trial of the same context were not significantly different (p = 0.159). This means that subjects are able to retain long-term sensorimotor memories. Lastly, the last four trials in which subjects switched contexts were not significantly different from each other (p = 0.334). This means that the interference from sensorimotor memories of lifting in opposite contexts was weaker, thus eventually leading to the attainment of steady performance.

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Date Created
2013-05

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Role of Proprioceptive Feedback and Multisensory Integration for Object Weight Perception

Description

Tactile and proprioceptive sensory feedback are the two sensory modalities that make up haptic sensation. The degree which these two sensory modalities are integrated together is not very well known. To investigate this issue a set of experiments were set

Tactile and proprioceptive sensory feedback are the two sensory modalities that make up haptic sensation. The degree which these two sensory modalities are integrated together is not very well known. To investigate this issue a set of experiments were set into motion separating these sensory modalities and testing what happens when a person’s proprioceptive system is perturbed. A virtual reality system with haptic feedback along with a weighted object were utilized in a reach, grasp, and lift task. The subjects would lift two objects sequentially and try to judge which one was heavier. This project was split into three different experiments to measure the subject’s perception in different situations. The first experiment utilized the virtual reality system to measure the perception when the subject only has proprioceptive inputs. The second experiment would include the virtual reality system and the weighted object to act as a comparison to the first experiment with the additional tactile input. The third experiment would then add perturbations to the proprioceptive inputs through the virtual reality system to investigate how perception will change. Results from experiment 1 and 2 showed that subjects are almost just as accurate with weight discrimination even if they only have proprioceptive inputs however, subjects are much more consistent in their weight discrimination with both sensory modalities. Results from experiment 3 showed that subjective perception does change when the proprioception is perturbed but the magnitude of that change in perception depends on the perturbation performed.

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Date Created
2020-12

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Influence of sensorimotor noise on the planning and control of reaching in 3-dimensional space

Description

The ability to plan, execute, and control goal oriented reaching and grasping movements is among the most essential functions of the brain. Yet, these movements are inherently variable; a result of the noise pervading the neural signals underlying sensorimotor processing.

The ability to plan, execute, and control goal oriented reaching and grasping movements is among the most essential functions of the brain. Yet, these movements are inherently variable; a result of the noise pervading the neural signals underlying sensorimotor processing. The specific influences and interactions of these noise processes remain unclear. Thus several studies have been performed to elucidate the role and influence of sensorimotor noise on movement variability. The first study focuses on sensory integration and movement planning across the reaching workspace. An experiment was designed to examine the relative contributions of vision and proprioception to movement planning by measuring the rotation of the initial movement direction induced by a perturbation of the visual feedback prior to movement onset. The results suggest that contribution of vision was relatively consistent across the evaluated workspace depths; however, the influence of vision differed between the vertical and later axes indicate that additional factors beyond vision and proprioception influence movement planning of 3-dimensional movements. If the first study investigated the role of noise in sensorimotor integration, the second and third studies investigate relative influence of sensorimotor noise on reaching performance. Specifically, they evaluate how the characteristics of neural processing that underlie movement planning and execution manifest in movement variability during natural reaching. Subjects performed reaching movements with and without visual feedback throughout the movement and the patterns of endpoint variability were compared across movement directions. The results of these studies suggest a primary role of visual feedback noise in shaping patterns of variability and in determining the relative influence of planning and execution related noise sources. The final work considers a computational approach to characterizing how sensorimotor processes interact to shape movement variability. A model of multi-modal feedback control was developed to simulate the interaction of planning and execution noise on reaching variability. The model predictions suggest that anisotropic properties of feedback noise significantly affect the relative influence of planning and execution noise on patterns of reaching variability.

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Date Created
2012

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

Description

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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Date Created
2016-12

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The internal representation of arm position revealed through the spatial pattern of hand location estimation errors

Description

Our ability to estimate the position of our body parts in space, a fundamentally proprioceptive process, is crucial for interacting with the environment and movement control. For proprioception to support these actions, the Central Nervous System has to rely on

Our ability to estimate the position of our body parts in space, a fundamentally proprioceptive process, is crucial for interacting with the environment and movement control. For proprioception to support these actions, the Central Nervous System has to rely on a stored internal representation of the body parts in space. However, relatively little is known about this internal representation of arm position. To this end, I developed a method to map proprioceptive estimates of hand location across a 2-d workspace. In this task, I moved each subject's hand to a target location while the subject's eyes were closed. After returning the hand, subjects opened their eyes to verbally report the location of where their fingertip had been. Then, I reconstructed and analyzed the spatial structure of the pattern of estimation errors. In the first couple of experiments I probed the structure and stability of the pattern of errors by manipulating the hand used and tactile feedback provided when the hand was at each target location. I found that the resulting pattern of errors was systematically stable across conditions for each subject, subject-specific, and not uniform across the workspace. These findings suggest that the observed structure of pattern of errors has been constructed through experience, which has resulted in a systematically stable internal representation of arm location. Moreover, this representation is continuously being calibrated across the workspace. In the next two experiments, I aimed to probe the calibration of this structure. To this end, I used two different perturbation paradigms: 1) a virtual reality visuomotor adaptation to induce a local perturbation, 2) and a standard prism adaptation paradigm to induce a global perturbation. I found that the magnitude of the errors significantly increased to a similar extent after each perturbation. This small effect indicates that proprioception is recalibrated to a similar extent regardless of how the perturbation is introduced, suggesting that sensory and motor changes may be two independent processes arising from the perturbation. Moreover, I propose that the internal representation of arm location might be constructed with a global solution and not capable of local changes.

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Date Created
2012

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Upper limb proprioceptive sensitivity in three-dimensional space: effects of direction, posture, and exogenous neuromodulation

Description

Proprioception is the sense of body position, movement, force, and effort. Loss of proprioception can affect planning and control of limb and body movements, negatively impacting activities of daily living and quality of life. Assessments employing planar robots have shown

Proprioception is the sense of body position, movement, force, and effort. Loss of proprioception can affect planning and control of limb and body movements, negatively impacting activities of daily living and quality of life. Assessments employing planar robots have shown that proprioceptive sensitivity is directionally dependent within the horizontal plane however, few studies have looked at proprioceptive sensitivity in 3d space. In addition, the extent to which proprioceptive sensitivity is modifiable by factors such as exogenous neuromodulation is unclear. To investigate proprioceptive sensitivity in 3d we developed a novel experimental paradigm employing a 7-DoF robot arm, which enables reliable testing of arm proprioception along arbitrary paths in 3d space, including vertical motion which has previously been neglected. A participant’s right arm was coupled to a trough held by the robot that stabilized the wrist and forearm, allowing for changes in configuration only at the elbow and shoulder. Sensitivity to imposed displacements of the endpoint of the arm were evaluated using a “same/different” task, where participant’s hands were moved 1-4 cm from a previously visited reference position. A measure of sensitivity (d’) was compared across 6 movement directions and between 2 postures. For all directions, sensitivity increased monotonically as the distance from the reference location increased. Sensitivity was also shown to be anisotropic (directionally dependent) which has implications for our understanding of the planning and control of reaching movements in 3d space.

The effect of neuromodulation on proprioceptive sensitivity was assessed using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which has been shown to have beneficial effects on human cognitive and sensorimotor performance in other contexts. In this pilot study the effects of two frequencies (30hz and 300hz) and three electrode configurations were examined. No effect of electrode configuration was found, however sensitivity with 30hz stimulation was significantly lower than with 300hz stimulation (which was similar to sensitivity without stimulation). Although TENS was shown to modulate proprioceptive sensitivity, additional experiments are required to determine if TENS can produce enhancement rather than depression of sensitivity which would have positive implications for rehabilitation of proprioceptive deficits arising from stroke and other disorders.

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Date Created
2018