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Investigating motor skill learning processes with a robotic manipulandum


Leemburg, Susan; Iijima, Maiko; Lambercy, Olivier; Nallet-Khosrofian, Lauriane; Gassert, Roger; Luft, Andreas (2017). Investigating motor skill learning processes with a robotic manipulandum. Journal of Visualized Experiments (Jove), (120):e54970.

Abstract

Skilled reaching tasks are commonly used in studies of motor skill learning and motor function under healthy and pathological conditions, but can be time-intensive and ambiguous to quantify beyond simple success rates. Here, we describe the training procedure for reach-and-pull tasks with ETH Pattus, a robotic platform for automated forelimb reaching training that records pulling and hand rotation movements in rats. Kinematic quantification of the performed pulling attempts reveals the presence of distinct temporal profiles of movement parameters such as pulling velocity, spatial variability of the pulling trajectory, deviation from midline, as well as pulling success. We show how minor adjustments in the training paradigm result in alterations in these parameters, revealing their relation to task difficulty, general motor function or skilled task execution. Combined with electrophysiological, pharmacological and optogenetic techniques, this paradigm can be used to explore the mechanisms underlying motor learning and memory formation, as well as loss and recovery of function (e.g. after stroke).

Abstract

Skilled reaching tasks are commonly used in studies of motor skill learning and motor function under healthy and pathological conditions, but can be time-intensive and ambiguous to quantify beyond simple success rates. Here, we describe the training procedure for reach-and-pull tasks with ETH Pattus, a robotic platform for automated forelimb reaching training that records pulling and hand rotation movements in rats. Kinematic quantification of the performed pulling attempts reveals the presence of distinct temporal profiles of movement parameters such as pulling velocity, spatial variability of the pulling trajectory, deviation from midline, as well as pulling success. We show how minor adjustments in the training paradigm result in alterations in these parameters, revealing their relation to task difficulty, general motor function or skilled task execution. Combined with electrophysiological, pharmacological and optogenetic techniques, this paradigm can be used to explore the mechanisms underlying motor learning and memory formation, as well as loss and recovery of function (e.g. after stroke).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Physical Sciences > General Chemical Engineering
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Language:English
Date:12 February 2017
Deposited On:29 Nov 2017 09:08
Last Modified:11 May 2020 16:37
Publisher:Journal of Visualized Experiments
ISSN:1940-087X
OA Status:Green
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3791/54970
PubMed ID:28287570

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