Learning Dynamic Manipulation with Redundant Degrees of Freedom: Sub-Optimal Motor Solution induced by switching tasks
The effect of conflicting sensorimotor memories on optimal force strategies was explored. Subjects operated a virtual object controlled by a physical handle to complete a simple straight-line task. Perturbations applied to the handle induced a period of increased error in subject accuracy. After two blocks of 33 trials, perturbations switched direction, inducing increased error from the previous trials. Subjects returned after a 24-hour period to complete a similar protocol, but beginning with the second context and ending with the first. Interference from the first context on each day caused an increase in initial error for the second (P < 0.05). Following the rest period, subjects showed retention of the sensorimotor memory from the previous day through significantly decreased initial error (P = 3x10-6). However, subjects showed an increase in forces for each new context resulting from a sub-optimal motor strategy. Higher levels of total effort (P < 0.05) and a lack of separation between force values for opposing and non-opposing digits (P > 0.05) indicated a strategy that used more energy to complete the task, even when rates of learning appeared identical or improved. Two possible mechanisms for this lack of energy conservation have been proposed.