Transfer Physical Learning using Virtual Reality
Learning motor skills involves a wide range and impressive complexity of processes. Cerebral motor areas must integrate visual, proprioceptive, and other types of information to achieve effective learning.
My work examines the role of sensory feedback during implicit and explicit motor learning in adults. I developed a unique and novel training setup, based on virtual reality (VR) that enhances motor learning by dissociating voluntary movement, visual feedback, and proprioception (Ossmy & Mukamel, 2017, Jove).
We then used fMRI to test neural mechanisms underlying learning of motor skills, training with congruent and incongruent visual feedback, and training with manipulated body size (Ossmy & Mukamel, 2016, Cell Rep; Ossmy & Mukamel, 2016, Sci Rep).
Behaviorally, we found that when it comes to short-term motor skill learning, sensory feedback in general, and from the body in particular, can critically modify the ability of subjects to improve their motor performance with and without voluntary physical practice.
At the neural level, we found that when visual feedback is manipulated during training, activity in the bilateral superior parietal lobule (SPL), and its degree of coupling with motor and visual cortices, can predict subsequent performance gains. we also found that activity in the supplementary motor area (SMA) during training can explain individual differences in learning and their behavioral sensitivity to visual feedback (Ossmy & Mukamel, 2018, NeuroImage).