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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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Date Created
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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Date Created
2016-12

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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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Date Created
2015

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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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Date Created
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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Created

Date Created
2011

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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