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Examining the Spatial and Temporal Properties of Unconstrained Motor Skill Learning

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dc.creator Erin McKenna
dc.date.accessioned 2022-01-25T19:12:55Z
dc.date.available 2022-01-25T19:12:55Z
dc.date.issued 2019
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1920/12361
dc.description.abstract There are at least two types of motor learning: motor adaptation and motor skill learning. Motor adaptation is characterized by fast changes to simple, constrained movement, where the goal is to counter a perturbation and return to baseline performance. Motor skill learning is defined by slow changes to complex, unconstrained movement where the goal is to improve beyond baseline performance (Krakauer et al. 2012, 2014). Previous work has established several spatial and temporal properties of motor adaptation including spatial and temporal generalization. Spatial generalization describes the transfer of motor learning from a trained to untrained spatial configurations. Similarly, temporal generalization describes the transfer of motor learning from a trained to untrained movement speeds. This dissertation aims to determine whether these known spatial and temporal properties of motor adaptation, also apply to motor skill learning. Dancers are an ideal population of motor skill experts to study because dance technique requires dancers to move consistently through space and in time with music or a metronome. This dissertation is designed to answer three research questions: 1) Do dancers spatially navigate better than non-dancers with and without vision? 2) Can dancers transfer motor skills from trained to novel spatial contexts? 3) Can dancers transfer motor skills from trained to novel speeds? We utilized motion capture technology to continuously measure dancers and non-dancers' movement throughout their performance on each task. Our results suggest that spatial navigation for both dancers and non-dancers deteriorates when vision is restricted, but dancers outperform non-dancers when navigating complex configurations both with and without vision. In addition, our results imply that dancers are able to transfer motor skills from trained to untrained spatial contexts and speeds. Taken together, the results of this dissertation demonstrate that some of the known spatial and temporal properties of motor adaptation also apply to motor skill learning.
dc.title Examining the Spatial and Temporal Properties of Unconstrained Motor Skill Learning
thesis.degree.level Ph.D.
thesis.degree.discipline Neuroscience
thesis.degree.grantor George Mason University


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