From Parallel Sequence Representations to Calligraphic Control: A Conspiracy of Neural Circuits

in Motor Control
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Calligraphic writing presents many challenges for motor control, including: learning and recall of stroke sequences; critical timing of stroke onsets and durations; fine control of grip and contact forces; and letterform invariance under size scaling, which entails fine control of stroke directions and amplitudes during recruitment and derecruitment of musculoskeletal degrees of freedom. Experimental and computational studies in behavioral neuroscience have progressed toward explaining the learning, planning, and control exercised in tasks that share features with calligraphic writing and drawing. This article highlights component operations ranging from parallel sequence representations to fine force control. Treated in succession are: competitive queuing models of sequence representation, performance, learning, and recall; letter size scaling and motor equivalence; cursive handwriting models in which sensory-motor transformations are performed by circuits that learn inverse differential kinematic mappings; and fine-grained control of timing and transient forces by circuit models that learn to solve inverse dynamics problems.

The author is with the Cognitive & Neural Systems Dept, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215.

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