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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

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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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2013-05

Intracortical microstimulation of somatosensory cortex: functional encoding and localization of neuronal recruitment

Description

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the

Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) within somatosensory cortex can produce artificial sensations including touch, pressure, and vibration. There is significant interest in using ICMS to provide sensory feedback for a prosthetic limb. In such a system, information recorded from sensors on the prosthetic would be translated into electrical stimulation and delivered directly to the brain, providing feedback about features of objects in contact with the prosthetic. To achieve this goal, multiple simultaneous streams of information will need to be encoded by ICMS in a manner that produces robust, reliable, and discriminable sensations. The first segment of this work focuses on the discriminability of sensations elicited by ICMS within somatosensory cortex. Stimulation on multiple single electrodes and near-simultaneous stimulation across multiple electrodes, driven by a multimodal tactile sensor, were both used in these experiments. A SynTouch BioTac sensor was moved across a flat surface in several directions, and a subset of the sensor's electrode impedance channels were used to drive multichannel ICMS in the somatosensory cortex of a non-human primate. The animal performed a behavioral task during this stimulation to indicate the discriminability of sensations evoked by the electrical stimulation. The animal's responses to ICMS were somewhat inconsistent across experimental sessions but indicated that discriminable sensations were evoked by both single and multichannel ICMS. The factors that affect the discriminability of stimulation-induced sensations are not well understood, in part because the relationship between ICMS and the neural activity it induces is poorly defined. The second component of this work was to develop computational models that describe the populations of neurons likely to be activated by ICMS. Models of several neurons were constructed, and their responses to ICMS were calculated. A three-dimensional cortical model was constructed using these cell models and used to identify the populations of neurons likely to be recruited by ICMS. Stimulation activated neurons in a sparse and discontinuous fashion; additionally, the type, number, and location of neurons likely to be activated by stimulation varied with electrode depth.

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2013

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Comparison of feature selection methods for robust dexterous decoding of finger movements from the primary motor cortex of a non-human primate using support vector machine

Description

Robust and stable decoding of neural signals is imperative for implementing a useful neuroprosthesis capable of carrying out dexterous tasks. A nonhuman primate (NHP) was trained to perform combined flexions of the thumb, index and middle fingers in addition to

Robust and stable decoding of neural signals is imperative for implementing a useful neuroprosthesis capable of carrying out dexterous tasks. A nonhuman primate (NHP) was trained to perform combined flexions of the thumb, index and middle fingers in addition to individual flexions and extensions of the same digits. An array of microelectrodes was implanted in the hand area of the motor cortex of the NHP and used to record action potentials during finger movements. A Support Vector Machine (SVM) was used to classify which finger movement the NHP was making based upon action potential firing rates. The effect of four feature selection techniques, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Relative Importance, Principal Component Analysis, and Mutual Information Maximization was compared based on SVM classification performance. SVM classification was used to examine the functional parameters of (i) efficacy (ii) endurance to simulated failure and (iii) longevity of classification. The effect of using isolated-neuron and multi-unit firing rates was compared as the feature vector supplied to the SVM. The best classification performance was on post-implantation day 36, when using multi-unit firing rates the worst classification accuracy resulted from features selected with Wilcoxon signed-rank test (51.12 ± 0.65%) and the best classification accuracy resulted from Mutual Information Maximization (93.74 ± 0.32%). On this day when using single-unit firing rates, the classification accuracy from the Wilcoxon signed-rank test was 88.85 ± 0.61 % and Mutual Information Maximization was 95.60 ± 0.52% (degrees of freedom =10, level of chance =10%)

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2015

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Smart glove: an assistive device to enhance recovery of hand function during motor rehabilitation

Description

Stroke accounts for high rates of mortality and disability in the United States. It levies great economic burden on the affected subjects, their family and the society at large. Motor impairments after stroke mainly manifest themselves as hemiplegia or hemiparesis

Stroke accounts for high rates of mortality and disability in the United States. It levies great economic burden on the affected subjects, their family and the society at large. Motor impairments after stroke mainly manifest themselves as hemiplegia or hemiparesis in the upper and lower limbs. Motor recovery is highly variable but can be enhanced through motor rehabilitation with sufficient movement repetition and intensity. Cost effective assistive devices that can augment therapy by increasing movement repetition both at home and in the clinic may facilitate recovery. This thesis aims to develop a Smart Glove that can enhance motor recovery by providing feedback to both the therapist and the patient on the number of hand movements (wrist and finger extensions) performed during therapy. The design implements resistive flex sensors for detecting the extensions and processes the information using the Lightblue bean microcontroller mounted on the wrist. Communication between the processing unit and display module is wireless and executes Bluetooth 4.0 communication protocol. The capacity for the glove to measure and record hand movements was tested on three stroke and one traumatic brain injured patient while performing a box and blocks test. During testing many design flaws were noted and several were adapted during testing to improve the function of the glove. Results of the testing showed that the glove could detect wrist and finger extensions but that the sensitivity had to be calibrated for each patient. It also allowed both the therapist and patient to know whether the patient was actually performing the task in the manner requested by the therapist. Further work will reveal whether this feedback can enhance recovery of hand function in neurologically impaired patients.

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2015

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Volitional control of a powered prosthetic ankle

Description

Approximately 1.7 million people in the United States are living with limb loss and are in need of more sophisticated devices that better mimic human function. In the Human Machine Integration Laboratory, a powered, transtibial prosthetic ankle was designed and

Approximately 1.7 million people in the United States are living with limb loss and are in need of more sophisticated devices that better mimic human function. In the Human Machine Integration Laboratory, a powered, transtibial prosthetic ankle was designed and build that allows a person to regain ankle function with improved ankle kinematics and kinetics. The ankle allows a person to walk normally and up and down stairs, but volitional control is still an issue. This research tackled the problem of giving the user more control over the prosthetic ankle using a force/torque circuit. When the user presses against a force/torque sensor located inside the socket the prosthetic foot plantar flexes or moves downward. This will help the user add additional push-off force when walking up slopes or stairs. It also gives the user a sense of control over the device.

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2012

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Dexterous manipulation: sensorimotor learning and control

Description

Humans' ability to perform fine object and tool manipulation is a defining feature of their sensorimotor repertoire. How the central nervous system builds and maintains internal representations of such skilled hand-object interactions has attracted significant attention over the past three

Humans' ability to perform fine object and tool manipulation is a defining feature of their sensorimotor repertoire. How the central nervous system builds and maintains internal representations of such skilled hand-object interactions has attracted significant attention over the past three decades. Nevertheless, two major gaps exist: a) how digit positions and forces are coordinated during natural manipulation tasks, and b) what mechanisms underlie the formation and retention of internal representations of dexterous manipulation. This dissertation addresses these two questions through five experiments that are based on novel grip devices and experimental protocols. It was found that high-level representation of manipulation tasks can be learned in an effector-independent fashion. Specifically, when challenged by trial-to-trial variability in finger positions or using digits that were not previously engaged in learning the task, subjects could adjust finger forces to compensate for this variability, thus leading to consistent task performance. The results from a follow-up experiment conducted in a virtual reality environment indicate that haptic feedback is sufficient to implement the above coordination between digit position and forces. However, it was also found that the generalizability of a learned manipulation is limited across tasks. Specifically, when subjects learned to manipulate the same object across different contexts that require different motor output, interference was found at the time of switching contexts. Data from additional studies provide evidence for parallel learning processes, which are characterized by different rates of decay and learning. These experiments have provided important insight into the neural mechanisms underlying learning and control of object manipulation. The present findings have potential biomedical applications including brain-machine interfaces, rehabilitation of hand function, and prosthetics.

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2013

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Effects of arm configuration on patterns of reaching variability in 3D space

Description

Reaching movements are subject to noise in both the planning and execution phases of movement production. Although the effects of these noise sources in estimating and/or controlling endpoint position have been examined in many studies, the independent effects of limb

Reaching movements are subject to noise in both the planning and execution phases of movement production. Although the effects of these noise sources in estimating and/or controlling endpoint position have been examined in many studies, the independent effects of limb configuration on endpoint variability have been largely ignored. The present study investigated the effects of arm configuration on the interaction between planning noise and execution noise. Subjects performed reaching movements to three targets located in a frontal plane. At the starting position, subjects matched one of two desired arm configuration 'templates' namely "adducted" and "abducted". These arm configurations were obtained by rotations along the shoulder-hand axis, thereby maintaining endpoint position. Visual feedback of the hand was varied from trial to trial, thereby increasing uncertainty in movement planning and execution. It was hypothesized that 1) pattern of endpoint variability would be dependent on arm configuration and 2) that these differences would be most apparent in conditions without visual feedback. It was found that there were differences in endpoint variability between arm configurations in both visual conditions, but these differences were much larger when visual feedback was withheld. The overall results suggest that patterns of endpoint variability are highly dependent on arm configuration, particularly in the absence of visual feedback. This suggests that in the presence of vision, movement planning in 3D space is performed using coordinates that are largely arm configuration independent (i.e. extrinsic coordinates). In contrast, in the absence of vision, movement planning in 3D space reflects a substantial contribution of intrinsic coordinates.

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2013

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Characterizing feedforward and feedback grasp control mechanisms in early phases of manipulation

Description

Anticipatory planning of digit positions and forces is critical for successful dexterous object manipulation. Anticipatory (feedforward) planning bypasses the inherent delays in reflex responses and sensorimotor integration associated with reactive (feedback) control. It has been suggested that feedforward and feedback

Anticipatory planning of digit positions and forces is critical for successful dexterous object manipulation. Anticipatory (feedforward) planning bypasses the inherent delays in reflex responses and sensorimotor integration associated with reactive (feedback) control. It has been suggested that feedforward and feedback strategies can be distinguished based on the profile of grip and load force rates during the period between initial contact with the object and object lift. However, this has not been validated in tasks that do not constrain digit placement. The purposes of this thesis were (1) to validate the hypothesis that force rate profiles are indicative of the control strategy used for object manipulation and (2) to test this hypothesis by comparing manipulation tasks performed with and without digit placement constraints. The first objective comprised two studies. In the first study an additional light or heavy mass was added to the base of the object. In the second study a mass was added, altering the object's center of mass (CM) location. In each experiment digit force rates were calculated between the times of initial digit contact and object lift. Digit force rates were fit to a Gaussian bell curve and the goodness of fit was compared across predictable and unpredictable mass and CM conditions. For both experiments, a predictable object mass and CM elicited bell shaped force rate profiles, indicative of feedforward control. For the second objective, a comparison of performance between subjects who performed the grasp task with either constrained or unconstrained digit contact locations was conducted. When digit location was unconstrained and CM was predictable, force rates were well fit to a bell shaped curve. However, the goodness of fit of the force rate profiles to the bell shaped curve was weaker for the constrained than the unconstrained digit placement condition. These findings seem to indicate that brain can generate an appropriate feedforward control strategy even when digit placement is unconstrained and an infinite combination of digit placement and force solutions exists to lift the object successfully. Future work is needed that investigates the role digit positioning and tactile feedback has on anticipatory control of object manipulation.

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2011