By Daniel Walkwitz, Neuroscience; Colin Annand, University of Cincinnati; Francis Grover, University of Cincinnati
Advisor: Colin Annand
Abstract: Stable coordination patterns, such as the antiphase oscillation between legs while running, are naturally present under normal circumstances and do not require learning to achieve, whereas unstable coordination patterns do. These patterns have been studied alone and between two or more individuals, particularly in athletics such as crew rowing. It has been shown that stable coordination patterns within individuals require a slightly longer period of training to overcome. However, the effects of varying frequencies on these coordination patterns have not been well studied. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of changing frequencies as an amplification of error method for learning an inherently unstable coordination pattern. Error amplification has previously been shown to increase learning. Individuals were tasked with tracing a circle using a vertical and a horizontal movement knob to control an on-screen cursor, similarly to the familiar Etch-a-Sketch toy, by following a target moving continually along the circumference of the circle. Successfully following the target requires moving the knobs in an unstable 'quarter-cycle' coordination pattern. The movement rate of the target varied between trials for two of the experimental conditions. Error was computed as the Euclidean distance between participant cursor and a moving target. The error difference between pre- and post-trial tests was compared across three experimental conditions (no rate change, gradual rate change, and random rate change). Findings are discussed within a learning optimization framework specific to motor control tasks such as athletic performance and rehabilitation training.