OJEMB presents

Modulating the Structure of Motor Variability for Skill Learning Through Specific Muscle Synergies in Elderlies and Young Adults

Featured Articles

Motor variability – performance variations across task repetitions – has been assumed to be undesirable. But recent studies argue that variability facilitates early motor learning by allowing exploratory search of reward-generating motion, and that variability’s structure may be modulated by neural circuits for furthering learning. What are the neural sources of learning-relevant motor variability and its modulation in humans of different ages? Methods: Elderlies and young adults played a 3-session virtual bowling while multi-muscle electromyographic signals were collected. We quantified trial-to-trial variability of muscle synergies – neuromotor control modules – and of their activations. Results: In elderlies, bowling-score gain correlated with change of activation timing variability of specific synergies, but in young adults, with variability changes of synergy-activation magnitude, and of the synergies themselves. Conclusions: Variability modulation of specific muscle synergies and their activations contribute to early motor learning. Elderly and young individuals may rely on different aspects of motor variability to drive learning.

Related Articles