Home Medizin Visuell-motorische Illusionen verbessern die motorische Leistung und das Lernen im Frühstadium

Visuell-motorische Illusionen verbessern die motorische Leistung und das Lernen im Frühstadium

von NFI Redaktion

Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan University have demonstrated that visual aids that create the illusion of movement, such as a screen placed in front of the hand showing the hand’s motion, can enhance motor performance and early stages of motor learning. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy data also revealed larger changes in brain activity in regions associated with motor learning when compared to observing others. Insights like these could provide new treatment strategies for hemiplegic stroke patients.

Visual-motor illusion (VMI) is the strange illusion of observing the body moving even when it is stationary. For instance, imagine having a tablet screen in front of your hand. Your hand is hidden behind the tablet and not moving. However, on the screen, a video of your hand’s movement is being played. Your eyes tell you that your hand is moving, even though it is not. This unsettling situation is immediately resolved when you move the screen elsewhere, making the screen just an action observation (AO). Previous work has shown that VMI and AO evoke different brain responses, although the broader impact of VMI remained unclear.

Now, a team of scientists led by Assistant Professor Katsuya Sakai of the Tokyo Metropolitan University has shown that VMI can improve motor performance and early-stage motor learning. Volunteers were given the task of rolling two metal balls in one hand. After initial tests, a visual aid showing hands performing the same action was used. One group had the visual aid placed in front of their hand to induce VMI, while another group simply watched the same video normally. Performance was measured by the number of complete rolls the participants achieved. Both groups showed improvement, but the VMI group exhibited greater improvement both immediately after and an hour after the video was shown, highlighting not only enhanced performance but also improved early learning with lasting changes.

To understand brain activity, the team used functional near-infrared spectroscopy, a non-invasive technique that helps track activity in specific parts of the brain using external probes. They found significant differences between AO and VMI volunteers in parts of the brain associated with learning new movements. Crucially, these changes were found to persist an hour after the visual stimuli, consistent with their findings during the task. This also aligned with the group’s previous findings showing improved connectivity in parts of the brain responsible for motor execution through VMI.

The team acknowledges that much work lies ahead. For example, these insights are from a study conducted on healthy individuals, and an evaluation of the medium to long-term motor performance is still pending. However, the insights gleaned from this study shed light on a unique strategy for enhancing motor performance and learning that could eventually be applied to the rehabilitation of hemiplegic stroke patients and guide the development of new treatments.

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 22K17569.

Source:

Tokyo Metropolitan University

Journal reference:

Sakai, K., et al. (2023). Differences in early stages of motor learning between visual-motor illusion and action observation. Scientific Reports. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-47435-8.

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