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Cheryl M. Glazebrook

This article explores the idea of integration as a common theme for the next decade of motor control and learning research. Theoretical advances coupled with advances in understanding individual differences and brain-imaging techniques will facilitate novel perspectives through an integrated understanding of sensory, cognitive, and emotional processing for motor control and learning. Through the support of fundamental research, discoveries that cannot be predicted today will create new insights into how motor control and learning can inform education, health care, and sport. An integrated approach is critical for designs of novel products and procedures, as many new designs are not subject to large-scale trials. To achieve the most effective integration with the public and wider scientific community, researchers should explore novel methods for sharing our findings efficiently, ethically, and effectively.

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Cheryl M. Glazebrook, Digby Elliott, and James Lyons

We examined the planning and control of goal-directed aiming movements in young adults with autism. Participants performed rapid manual aiming movements to one of two targets. We manipulated the difficulty of the planning and control process by varying both target size and amplitude of the movements. Consistent with previous research, participants with autism took longer to prepare and execute movements, particularly when the index of difficulty was high. Although there were no group differences for accuracy, participants with autism exhibited more temporal and spatial variability over the initial phase of the movement even though mean peak accelerations and velocities were lower than for control participants. Our results suggest that although persons with autism have difficulty specifying muscular force, they compensate for this initial variability during limb deceleration. Perhaps persons with autism have learned to keep initial impulses low to minimize the spatial variability that needs to be corrected for during the online control phase of the movement.

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Jacqueline C. Ladwig, Tamires C. do Prado, Stephanie J. Tomy, Jonathan J. Marotta, and Cheryl M. Glazebrook

Improvements in functional reaching directly support improvements in independence. The addition of auditory inputs (e.g., music, rhythmic counting) may improve goal-directed reaching for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP). To effectively integrate auditory stimuli into adapted teaching and rehabilitation protocols, it is necessary to understand how auditory stimuli may enhance limb control. This study considered the influence of auditory stimuli during the planning or execution phases of goal-directed reaches. Adults (with CP = 10, without CP = 10) reached from a home switch to two targets. Three conditions were presented—no sound, sound before, and sound during—and three-dimensional movement trajectories were recorded. Reaction times were shorter for both groups in the sound before condition, while the group with CP also reached peak velocity relatively earlier in the sound before condition. The group with CP executed more consistent movements in both sound conditions. Sound presented before movement initiation improved both the planning and execution of reaching movements for adults with CP.

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Ran Zheng, Ilana D. Naiman, Jessica Skultety, Steven R. Passmore, Jim Lyons, and Cheryl M. Glazebrook

Although there are consistent reports that motor skills are affected in individuals with autism, the details are still debated; specifically, why individuals spend more time preparing movements and whether or not movement execution takes longer. The present study investigated if the conflicting reports were related to: (a) differences in movement type and (b) if longer reaction times were related to the time for motor planning or for force-generation processes. Participants performed three different movement types. People with autism had longer premotor reaction times and movement times for the three-dimensional movements only. We suggest individuals with autism have difficulty planning and executing unconstrained reaching movements specifically. The present results are consistent with evidence that autistic individuals have more difficulty effectively using visual feedback but can use tactile feedback to execute reaching movements efficiently and accurately.