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Motor task variation induces structural learning.
Braun DA, Aertsen A, Wolpert DM, Mehring C
Curr Biol 2009 Feb 24 19(4):352-7 [abstract on PubMed] [citations on Google Scholar] [related articles] [FREE full text]
Selected by | Reza Shadmehr
Evaluated 10 Aug 2009
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Faculty Member Comments
Reza Shadmehr
Johns Hopkins University, United States of America

New Finding

Current theoretical approaches to motor control view the problem of learning as one of state or parameter estimation in a fixed structure. Here, the authors show that learning involves a deeper process of building structural models.

The ability to generalize from learning control of a ping-pong paddle to a tennis racket may rely on forming a structural model that in principle can represent dynamics of both objects, with small changes in some parameter values. If one possesses such a model, then learning control is a simple search in a small space of parameters. Here, Daniel Braun and co-authors show that a process consistent with this takes place as people learn motor control. They trained subjects to reach in a visuomotor rotation paradigm in which the perturbation was random and unpredictable. Previous theoretical accounts would predict that this kind of exposure should produce little or no learning. However, the authors show that people acquire structural knowledge about the class of perturbations, and then do much better than when naive when exposed to a constant perturbation.

Competing interests: None declared
Evaluated 10 Aug 2009
Faculty Comments & Author Responses

How to cite the Faculty of 1000 Biology evaluation(s) for this paper

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