Developing a Portable System for Measuring Human Motor Learning: A Work-in-progress
USU Student Showcase
Point-to-point reaching is a commonly used paradigm in the field of human motor control. By studying how people move their arms from one location in space to another, researchers have gained insight into how the central nervous system controls and learns skilled movement. Many experimental methods that are designed to study reaching are not portable, however, making it difficult for researchers to access certain clinical populations with limited mobility or motor dysfunction. We have started to address this issue by developing a point-to-point reaching system that can capture key movement variables (e.g. speed and accuracy) yet is portable and inexpensive. We are developing this system with MATLAB software and MaKey MaKey hardware, a single-board microcontroller. Participants will reach with a metal stylus to and from targets on a tabletop made of aluminum foil (i.e. point-to-point reaching). Our current prototype system counts and timestamps when the stylus touches each aluminum target, then exports these data to a continuously updating log in Microsoft Excel. In addition to the low cost and portability of this system, it allows the experimenter to adjust the reaches' difficulty without modifying the data acquisition code by simply changing the size, number, and/or distance between the targets. Our next step is to pilot this system in a motor learning study in which participants repetitively reach from point to point as training. This work was supported in part by the USU Office of Research and Graduate Studies (RC #A28037).
Tew, Karen, "Developing a Portable System for Measuring Human Motor Learning: A Work-in-progress" (2014). USU Student Showcase. Student Showcase. Paper 91.
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