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Use-dependent learning, not error-based learning, occurs during perturbed recumbent stepping

Seyed Yahya Shirazi

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Central Florida

Helen J. Huang

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Disability, Aging, and Technology (DAT) cluster
University of Central Florida

Purpose: To investigate motor error and mechanical work during perturbed recumbent stepping.

Hypothesis: Both stepping error and mechanical work will decrease as subjects adapt to perturbed recumbent stepping. 


Locomotor adaptation is usually an error-based experience in which humans modify their walking behavior to reduce errors (e.g. prediction errors) [1] and energy expenditure in response to perturbations [2].

Adapted behavior often washes out soon after the perturbations are removed [3] but modified behaviors do not wash out if use-dependent learning occurred [4-5].

During error-based learning:

•   Perturbations hinder task completion.

•   Subjects reduce motor cost (error or energetic) during perturbations.

•   Adapted behavior rapidly washes out.

In use-dependent learning:

•   Perturbations do not hinder but modify task completion.

•   Subjects modify motor patterns and increase motor cost during perturbations.

•   Learned behavior does NOT wash out.

Note: Scroll to the bottom for detailed methods about setup, protocol, and calculation of error and mechanical work

final thoughts

Subjects demonstrated use-dependent learning based on the continual increase in mechanical work, unchanging errors, and sustained post-perturbation errors and mechanical work. 
Catch strides could be useful indicators of modified locomotor behavior.

Potential application: This protocol could be tuned to enhance use-dependent learning to sustain locomotor modifications that could potentially help restore “normal” lower limb coordination patterns.

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