239 research outputs found

    Sensitivity to Hand Path Curvature during Reaching

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    People optimize reaching to make straight and smooth movements. We performed experiments characterizing human sensitivity to hand path deviations from a straight reach. Vision of the arm was blocked. Subjects either moved the hand along paths of constrained curvature, or a robot moved the relaxed limb along similar trajectories (active and passive conditions, respectively). Subjects responded after each trial whether or not they thought the movement curved convex right. In a series of three experiments, we tested the effects of modifying visual feedback of hand position to suppress curvature, isotonic muscle activation, and a distracter task on subjects ability to detect curvature during reaching. We found that both active reaching and artificial minimization of visual hand path deviations significantly decreased proprioceptive curvature sensitivity. Specifically, isotonic contraction of muscles antagonistic to the movement decreased sensitivity to curvature while agonistic contraction had no effect. The distracter task did not significantly affect proprioceptive sensitivity, though it did interfere with the detrimental effect of minimizing visual error feedback. These findings demonstrate that: 1) antagonist muscle activation decreases efficacy of proprioceptive feedback during hand path curvature estimation, and 2) vision\u27s dominance over proprioception can be manipulated by altering the attentional demands of the task

    Dataglove Measurement of Joint Angles in Sign Language Handshapes

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    In sign language research, we understand little about articulatory factors involved in shaping phonemic boundaries or the amount (and articulatory nature) of acceptable phonetic variation between handshapes. To date, there exists no comprehensive analysis of handshape based on the quantitative measurement of joint angles during sign production. The purpose of our work is to develop a methodology for collecting and visualizing quantitative handshape data in an attempt to better understand how handshapes are produced at a phonetic level. In this pursuit, we seek to quantify the flexion and abduction angles of the finger joints using a commercial data glove (CyberGlove; Immersion Inc.). We present calibration procedures used to convert raw glove signals into joint angles. We then implement those procedures and evaluate their ability to accurately predict joint angle. Finally, we provide examples of how our recording techniques might inform current research questions

    Visual and Proprioceptive Contributions to Compensatory and Pursuit Tracking Movements in Humans

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    An ongoing debate in the field of motor control considers how the brain uses sensory information to guide the formation of motor commands to regulate movement accuracy. Recent research has shown that the brain may use visual and proprioceptive information differently for stabilization of limb posture (compensatory movements) and for controlling goal-directed limb trajectory (pursuit movements). Using a series of five experiments and linear systems identification techniques, we modeled and estimated the sensorimotor control parameters that characterize the human motor response to kinematic performance errors during continuous compensatory and pursuit tracking tasks. Our findings further support the idea that pursuit and compensatory movements of the limbs are differentially controlled

    Age-related differentiation of sensorimotor control strategies during pursuit and compensatory tracking

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    Motor control deficits during aging have been well-documented. Various causes of neuromotor decline, including both peripheral and central neurological deficits, have been hypothesized. Here, we use a model of closed-loop sensorimotor control to examine the functional causes of motor control deficits during aging. We recruited 14 subjects aged 19-61 years old to participate in a study in which they performed single-joint compensatory and pursuit tracking tasks with their dominant hand. We found that visual response delay and visual noise increased with age, while reliance on visual feedback, especially during compensatory tracking decreased. Increases in visual noise were also positively correlated with increases in movement error during a reach and hold task. The results suggest an increase in noise within the visuomotor control system may contribute to the decline in motor performance during early aging

    Augmenting Sensorimotor Control Using “Goal-Aware” Vibrotactile Stimulation during Reaching and Manipulation Behaviors

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    We describe two sets of experiments that examine the ability of vibrotactile encoding of simple position error and combined object states (calculated from an optimal controller) to enhance performance of reaching and manipulation tasks in healthy human adults. The goal of the first experiment (tracking) was to follow a moving target with a cursor on a computer screen. Visual and/or vibrotactile cues were provided in this experiment, and vibrotactile feedback was redundant with visual feedback in that it did not encode any information above and beyond what was already available via vision. After only 10 minutes of practice using vibrotactile feedback to guide performance, subjects tracked the moving target with response latency and movement accuracy values approaching those observed under visually guided reaching. Unlike previous reports on multisensory enhancement, combining vibrotactile and visual feedback of performance errors conferred neither positive nor negative effects on task performance. In the second experiment (balancing), vibrotactile feedback encoded a corrective motor command as a linear combination of object states (derived from a linear-quadratic regulator implementing a trade-off between kinematic and energetic performance) to teach subjects how to balance a simulated inverted pendulum. Here, the tactile feedback signal differed from visual feedback in that it provided information that was not readily available from visual feedback alone. Immediately after applying this novel “goal-aware” vibrotactile feedback, time to failure was improved by a factor of three. Additionally, the effect of vibrotactile training persisted after the feedback was removed. These results suggest that vibrotactile encoding of appropriate combinations of state information may be an effective form of augmented sensory feedback that can be applied, among other purposes, to compensate for lost or compromised proprioception as commonly observed, for example, in stroke survivors

    Reengineering Biomedical Engineering Curricula: A New Product Development Approach

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    Product development engineers in medical industries have created design control procedures to ensure high quality designs that are as error-free as possible. The reason is simple; companies must adhere to certain engineering and manufacturing best practices in order to obtain certification of their devices for sale in the US and abroad. We describe here an ongoing effort to apply these industrial best practices to the design and implementation of a novel sequence of undergraduate biomedical computing courses within the Department of Bio-medical Engineering at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). We have tightly integrated our industrial advisory board into this design and development effort. The board has contributed to significantly to the orderly generation of curricular requirements, the development of course implementation designs and the evaluation of these designs per requirements

    Elastic, Viscous, and Mass Load Effects on Poststroke Muscle Recruitment and Co-contraction During Reaching: A Pilot Study

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    Background: Resistive exercise after stroke can improve strength (force-generating capacity) without increasing spasticity (velocity-dependent hypertonicity). However, the effect of resistive load type on muscle activation and co-contraction after stroke is not clear. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of load type (elastic, viscous, or mass) on muscle activation and co-contraction during resisted forward reaching in the paretic and nonparetic arms after stroke. Design: This investigation was a single-session, mixed repeated-measures pilot study. Methods: Twenty participants (10 with hemiplegia and 10 without neurologic involvement) reached forward with each arm against equivalent elastic, viscous, and mass loads. Normalized shoulder and elbow electromyography impulses were analyzed to determine agonist muscle recruitment and agonist-antagonist muscle co-contraction. Results: Muscle activation and co-contraction levels were significantly higher on virtually all outcome measures for the paretic and nonparetic arms of the participants with stroke than for the matched control participants. Only the nonparetic shoulder responded to load type with similar activation levels but variable co-contraction responses relative to those of the control shoulder. Elastic and viscous loads were associated with strong activation; mass and viscous loads were associated with minimal co-contraction. Limitations: A reasonable, but limited, range of loads was available. Conclusions: Motor control deficits were evident in both the paretic and the nonparetic arms after stroke when forward reaching was resisted with viscous, elastic, or mass loads. The paretic arm responded with higher muscle activation and co-contraction levels across all load conditions than the matched control arm. Smaller increases in muscle activation and co-contraction levels that varied with load type were observed in the nonparetic arm. On the basis of the response of the nonparetic arm, this study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that viscous loads elicited strong muscle activation with minimal co-contraction. Further intervention studies are needed to determine whether viscous loads are preferable for poststroke resistive exercise programs

    Intention Tremor and Deficits of Sensory Feedback Control in Multiple Sclerosis: a Pilot Study

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    Background Intention tremor and dysmetria are leading causes of upper extremity disability in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The development of effective therapies to reduce tremor and dysmetria is hampered by insufficient understanding of how the distributed, multi-focal lesions associated with MS impact sensorimotor control in the brain. Here we describe a systems-level approach to characterizing sensorimotor control and use this approach to examine how sensory and motor processes are differentially impacted by MS. Methods Eight subjects with MS and eight age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects performed visually-guided flexion/extension tasks about the elbow to characterize a sensory feedback control model that includes three sensory feedback pathways (one for vision, another for proprioception and a third providing an internal prediction of the sensory consequences of action). The model allows us to characterize impairments in sensory feedback control that contributed to each MS subject’s tremor. Results Models derived from MS subject performance differed from those obtained for control subjects in two ways. First, subjects with MS exhibited markedly increased visual feedback delays, which were uncompensated by internal adaptive mechanisms; stabilization performance in individuals with the longest delays differed most from control subject performance. Second, subjects with MS exhibited misestimates of arm dynamics in a way that was correlated with tremor power. Subject-specific models accurately predicted kinematic performance in a reach and hold task for neurologically-intact control subjects while simulated performance of MS patients had shorter movement intervals and larger endpoint errors than actual subject responses. This difference between simulated and actual performance is consistent with a strategic compensatory trade-off of movement speed for endpoint accuracy. Conclusions Our results suggest that tremor and dysmetria may be caused by limitations in the brain’s ability to adapt sensory feedback mechanisms to compensate for increases in visual information processing time, as well as by errors in compensatory adaptations of internal estimates of arm dynamics

    A Quantitative and Standardized Robotic Method for the Evaluation of Arm Proprioception After Stroke

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    Stroke often results in both motor and sensory deficits, which may interact in the manifested functional impairment. Proprioception is known to play important roles in the planning and control of limb posture and movement; however, the impact of proprioceptive deficits on motor function has been difficult to elucidate due in part to the qualitative nature of available clinical tests. We present a quantitative and standardized method for evaluating proprioception in tasks directly relevant to those used to assess motor function. Using a robotic manipulandum that exerted controlled displacements of the hand, stroke participants were evaluated, and compared with a control group, in their ability to detect such displacements in a 2-alternative, forced-choice paradigm. A psychometric function parameterized the decision process underlying the detection of the hand displacements. The shape of this function was determined by a signal detection threshold and by the variability of the response about this threshold. Our automatic procedure differentiates between participants with and without proprioceptive deficits and quantifies functional proprioceptive sensation on a magnitude scale that is meaningful for ongoing studies of degraded motor function in comparable horizontal movements

    Visual, Motor and Attentional Influences on Proprioceptive Contributions to Perception of Hand Path Rectilinearity during Reaching

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    We examined how proprioceptive contributions to perception of hand path straightness are influenced by visual, motor and attentional sources of performance variability during horizontal planar reaching. Subjects held the handle of a robot that constrained goal-directed movements of the hand to the paths of controlled curvature. Subjects attempted to detect the presence of hand path curvature during both active (subject driven) and passive (robot driven) movements that either required active muscle force production or not. Subjects were less able to discriminate curved from straight paths when actively reaching for a target versus when the robot moved their hand through the same curved paths. This effect was especially evident during robot-driven movements requiring concurrent activation of lengthening but not shortening muscles. Subjects were less likely to report curvature and were more variable in reporting when movements appeared straight in a novel “visual channel” condition previously shown to block adaptive updating of motor commands in response to deviations from a straight-line hand path. Similarly, compromised performance was obtained when subjects simultaneously performed a distracting secondary task (key pressing with the contralateral hand). The effects compounded when these last two treatments were combined. It is concluded that environmental, intrinsic and attentional factors all impact the ability to detect deviations from a rectilinear hand path during goal-directed movement by decreasing proprioceptive contributions to limb state estimation. In contrast, response variability increased only in experimental conditions thought to impose additional attentional demands on the observer. Implications of these results for perception and other sensorimotor behaviors are discussed
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