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Toulouse, France

Kostrubiec V.,h University Of Toulouse | Zanone P.-G.,h University Of Toulouse | Fuchs A.,Florida Atlantic University | Scott Kelso J.A.,Florida Atlantic University | Scott Kelso J.A.,University of Ulster
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2012

Using an approach that combines experimental studies of bimanual movements to visual stimuli and theoretical modeling, the present paper develops a dynamical account of sensorimotor learning, that is, how new skills are acquired and old ones modified. A significant aspect of our approach is the focus on the individual learner as the basic unit of analysis, in particular the quantification of predispositions and capabilities that the individual learner brings to the learning environment. Such predispositions constitute the learner's behavioral repertoire, captured here theoretically as a dynamical landscape ("intrinsic dynamics"). The learning process is demonstrated to not only lead to a relatively permanent improvement of performance in the required task-the usual outcome-but also to alter the individual's entire repertoire. Changes in the dynamical landscape due to learning are shown to result from two basic mechanisms or "routes": bifurcation and shift. Which mechanism is selected depends the initial individual repertoire before new learning begins. Both bifurcation and shift mechanisms are accommodated by a dynamical model, a relatively straightforward development of the well-established HKB model of movement coordination. Model simulations show that although environmental or task demands may be met equally well using either mechanism, the bifurcation route results in greater stabilization of the to-be-learned behavior. Thus, stability not (or not only) error is demonstrated to be the basis of selection, both of a new pattern of behavior and the path (smooth shift versus abrupt qualitative change) that learning takes. In line with these results, recent neurophysiological evidence indicates that stability is a relevant feature around which brain activity is organized while an individual performs a coordination task. Finally, we explore the consequences of the dynamical approach to learning for theories of biological change. © 2012 Kostrubiec, Zanone, Fuchs and Kelso.

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