Over the past 40 years the research area of motor learning and control has developed into a field closely aligned with information processing in neuroscience. The basic, implicit assumption is that motor learning and control is the domain of the brain. Several crucial studies and developments from the past and the present are presented and discussed that highlight this position. The future of following that current path is discussed. Then, the case is made that the control of movement is not just a brain process, and thus scientists in kinesiology need to study movement behavior at a coarser level of analysis. Motor control in kinesiology should use the Newell framework and thus should examine the nature of individual attributes, environmental information, and task constraints on learning and performance of motor skills.
Michael A. Riley, Suvobrata Mitra, Thomas A. Stoffregen and Michael T. Turvey
We examined the potentially exploratory and performatory nature of postural sway. Subjects stood upright or leaned forward, with eyes open or closed. Postural data were analyzed using a statistical mechanics analysis of center of pressure (COP) trajectories, which examines the fractional Brownian nature of postural sway. Positive correlations (persistence) over short time scales are hypothesized to reflect exploratory behavior, and negative correlations (antipersistence) over long time scales are hypothesized to reflect performatory behavior. When leaning, subjects exhibited decreased levels of persistence (decreased correlation) and increased levels of antipersistence (increased correlation) than when upright. With eyes open, subjects showed decreased levels of persistence and decreased levels of antipersistence than with eyes closed. Effects of vision were more pronounced when leaning. Evidence for direction-specific exploration (based upon root mean square variability analysis) was considered. Task-specificity and trade-offs between biomechanical and task constraints in models of postural control were discussed.
Pieter Tijtgat, Jos Vanrenterghem, Simon J. Bennett, Dirk De Clercq, Geert J.P. Savelsbergh and Matthieu Lenoir
The purpose of this study was to investigate postural adjustments in one-handed ball catching. Specifically, the functional role of anticipatory postural adjustments (APA) during the initial arm raising and subsequent postural adjustments (SPA) for equilibrium control and ball-hand impact were scrutinized. Full-body kinematics and kinetics allowed an analysis of the mechanical consequences of raising up the arm and preparing for ball-hand impact. APA for catching were suggested to be for segment stabilization. SPA had a functional role for equilibrium control by an inverted pendulum mechanism but were also involved in preparing for the impact of the ball on the hand, which was illustrated by an increased postural response at the end of the movement. These results were compared with raising up the arm in a well-studied reaction-time task, for which an additional counter rotation equilibrium mechanism was observed. Together, our findings demonstrate that postural adjustments should be investigated in relation to their specific functional task constraints, rather than generalizing the functional role of these postural adjustments over different tasks.
Christopher K. Rhea and Matthew W. Wittstein
Much has been learned about the characteristics of gait in overground and treadmill walking. However, there are many contexts in which overground or treadmill walking might not be possible, such as in home-based physical therapy. In those cases, a surrogate task to index gait behavior would be a valuable tool. Thus, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the stride behavior characteristics of stationary stepping compared with treadmill walking. Healthy young adults (N = 10) preformed two 15-minute tasks: (1) treadmill walking and (2) stationary stepping. Several stride behavior characteristics were recorded, including the number of strides taken, minimum and maximum knee angle, stride interval mean, stride interval standard deviation, and detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) alpha of the stride interval time series. The results showed that stride behavior was similar between tasks when examined at the group level. However, when individual level analyses were used to examine the reliability of each metric between tasks, poor reliability was observed in most metrics, indicating that stationary stepping may not be an appropriate surrogate task for overground or treadmill walking. These results are discussed in the context of a gait dynamics framework, with attention to task constraints that may have influenced the findings.
Tsung-Yu Hsieh, Matheus M. Pacheco and Karl M. Newell
The goal of present experiment was to test whether different speed-accuracy paradigms outcomes (time minimization and time matching) were due to different temporal and spatial task constraints. Fifteen participants twice performed 100 trials of time minimization and time matching tasks with the yoked temporal and spatial requirements (criterion time and target width). The results showed that performing an aiming movement under the same spatial and temporal constraints resulted in similar outcomes with distributional properties (skewness and kurtosis) being slightly affected by practice effects. There was a trade-off in the information entropy for space and time (temporal information entropy decreased as spatial information entropy increased) with practice. Nevertheless, the joint space-time entropy of outcome did not change across tasks and conditions—revealing a common level of space-time entropy between these two categories of aiming tasks. These findings support the hypothesis that under the same spatial and temporal constraints the movement speed-accuracy function shares the same properties independent of task category.
David E. Vaillancourt, Andrew B. Slifkin and Karl M. Newell
We examine the force fluctuations in the control of grip force to determine if force variability increases or decreases in relation to the degree of inter-digit individuation. This relation was examined in young (n = 7) and elderly (n = 7) participants, and in participants diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (n = 7). Force was produced under different force levels (5%, 25%, 50% MVC) with and without visual feedback. Force variability was assessed using the standard deviation and root mean square error, and inter-digit individuation was examined using cross-approximate entropy. Force variability increased with the force level, the removal of visual feedback, and also in the Parkinson's disease compared to the young and elderly matched control participants. There was a reduction in the degree of inter-digit individuation, with increases in force level, the removal of visual feedback, and in Parkinson's disease participants compared to the matched controls. Overall, there was a negative correlation between the degree of inter-digit individuation and force variability. The force fluctuations in precision grip revealed a continuum for the degree of inter-digit individuation in which task constraints, aging, and Parkinson's disease alter the coupling between the digits in controlling grip force.
Kelly de Jesus, Ross Sanders, Karla de Jesus, João Ribeiro, Pedro Figueiredo, João P. Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes
Coaches are often challenged to optimize swimmers’ technique at different training and competition intensities, but 3-dimensional (3D) analysis has not been conducted for a wide range of training zones.
To analyze front-crawl 3D kinematics and interlimb coordination from low to severe swimming intensities.
Ten male swimmers performed a 200-m front crawl at 7 incrementally increasing paces until exhaustion (0.05-m/s increments and 30-s intervals), with images from 2 cycles in each step (at the 25- and 175-m laps) being recorded by 2 surface and 4 underwater video cameras. Metabolic anaerobic threshold (AnT) was also assessed using the lactate-concentration–velocity curve-modeling method.
Stroke frequency increased, stroke length decreased, hand and foot speed increased, and the index of interlimb coordination increased (within a catch-up mode) from low to severe intensities (P ≤ .05) and within the 200-m steps performed above the AnT (at or closer to the 4th step; P ≤ .05). Concurrently, intracyclic velocity variations and propelling efficiency remained similar between and within swimming intensities (P > .05).
Swimming intensity has a significant impact on swimmers’ segmental kinematics and interlimb coordination, with modifications being more evident after the point when AnT is reached. As competitive swimming events are conducted at high intensities (in which anaerobic metabolism becomes more prevalent), coaches should implement specific training series that lead swimmers to adapt their technique to the task constraints that exist in nonhomeostatic race conditions.
Georgios T. Angelakopoulos, Haralambos Tsorbatzoudis and George Grouios
In many dynamic interceptive actions performers need to integrate activity of manual and postural subsystems for successful performance. Groups of different skill level (poor and good catchers), (mean age = 9.1 and 9.4 respectively) were required to perform one-handed catches under different postural constraints: standing; standing in contact with a postural support aid by their side (PSAS) or to the left of their trunk (PSAF); Tandem; and sitting (control). Results revealed that, for poor catchers, the number of successful catches increased and grasp errors decreased significantly when sitting and with both postural aids in comparison with standing alone and Tandem conditions. Kinematic analyses showed that the postural aid devices reduced head sway in the anterior-posterior direction, while the PSAF reduced lateral head sway. The poor catchers’ performance benefited from an enlarged support surface, and reduction of lateral sway. Good catchers performed successfully under all task constraints, signifying the existence of a functional relationship between postural and grasping subsystems during performance. The results are discussed in the frame of Bernstein’s (1967) and Newell’s (1986) theory.
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