In a new study, Professor Aldo Faisal and Dr. Shlomi Har in the Imperial Laboratory of Brain and Behavior are bringing neuroscience to the real world. Using billiards, the scientists analyzed the entire body’s movement during kinesthetic learning.
This study demonstrated the participation of the whole body in the learning process and identified the critical joint movement for learning.
In particular, scientists have used wearable devices to track natural all-body movement and pool sports to frame the experience of learning skills in the real world.
They put sensors across the bodies of 30 people who were learning to play pool for the first time. The sensors recorded the movements of the limbs and trunk, and their data were uploaded to a computer for analysis.
Data from the sensor helped the scientists completely reconstruct the skeletal movement as an avatar. It also allowed for accurate analysis of movement in each joint and movement of the entire body.
When they measured whole-body movements, they discovered that learning occurred from head to toe: Although the main movement was in the elbow of the arm holding the pool stick, as would be expected with the pool, the whole body changed and improved motor learning. This data-driven approach to neuroscience adds more detail to what we think about motor learning, demonstrating a whole-body experience.
Lead researcher, Professor Aldo Faisal, in the Departments of Computing and Bioengineering said: “Pool learning does not require pre-existing technical experience, so it was a good way to gauge how humans learn a new skill. We found that when you learn a new skillful skill, every part of the body learns.”
However, it should be noted that the learning mechanisms differ from person to person; Everyone learns motor control differently. Of the 30 participants who completed the same task, two types of learners use different learning mechanisms.
Professor Faisal said: Each of these participants had a dominant learning method. Once we present topics with real-world complexity, we see that everyone is different, and we see the different mechanisms that emerge. “
Understanding how learning takes place between joints and across the whole body has transformative potential in learning rehabilitation and sports science.
Co-author Dr Shlomi Har of the Empire’s Department of Brain Sciences said: This realistic approach to neuroscience shows that we don’t have to manipulate the world to find what we are looking for. Instead, we can observe the world and extract meaning from people’s movement and brain activity as they carry out their tasks in the real world and display their free behavior. “
“The way the data is unfolded tells the stories – stories about learning across the body, stories of different learning mechanisms. This demonstrates the value of testing in the real world.”
- Haar, S., van Assel, CM & Faisal, AA Motor Learning in realistic billiards. Sci Rep 10, 20046 (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-76805-9
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