Developing a task to investigate skill learning and motor adaptation in fMRI

Hall, Alison (2019). Developing a task to investigate skill learning and motor adaptation in fMRI. University of Birmingham. M.Sc.

Text - Accepted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (878kB) | Preview


Skill learning and motor adaptation are key components within the area of motor control. Skill learning can be described as the process whereby movements become more accurate and are executed more quickly with practice. On the other hand, motor adaptation involves external perturbations which require a response to these altered conditions in order to improve performance. For example prism adaptation where participants are required to point at a target after looking through prism glasses which shift vision horizontally. It is thought that the motor adaptation process updates current internal models to produce the required response to these new demands or perturbations, this can often be shown by the presence of aftereffects when the perturbation is removed. To our knowledge there are no imaging studies within current motor control literature that attempt to specifically identify the different neural substrates that are involved in skill learning and motor adaptation in a single experiment.

The present study attempts to develop a novel rotary behavioural task, involving force field motor adaptation, using an MRI compatible force field robot. Protocol development outlined the most effective behavioural task to differentiate between skill learning and motor adaptation. Time on target and average deviation were selected as the most appropriate outcome measures to distinguish between the components of skill learning and adaptation respectively. Behavioural results demonstrated skill learning by a significant increase of time on target within the early stages of a learning curve before plateauing. Adaptation and deadaptation curves, along with a significant difference in average deviation between session 1 and 2 identified an initial large adaptation which then also plateaued. Overall, skill learning and motor adaptation were outlined as separate entities within the same behavioural task. fMRI pilot sessions for the behavioural task were promising, confirming the feasibility of running this task in an fMRI scanner. Further development of the fMRI protocol and analysis is to take place within future research in order to obtain results to provide a more thorough understanding of the neural mechanisms which govern skill learning and adaptation.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Sc.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Sc.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year