Rhythmic Manipulation of Objects with Complex Dynamics: Predictability over Chaos

Bahman Nasseroleslami, Christopher J. Hasson, Dagmar Sternad, Jörn Diedrichsen
2014 PLoS Computational Biology  
The study of object manipulation has been largely confined to discrete tasks, where accuracy, mechanical effort, or smoothness were examined to explain subjects' preferred movements. This study investigated a rhythmic manipulation task, which involved continuous interaction with a nonlinear object that led to unpredictable object behavior. Using a simplified virtual version of the task of carrying a cup of coffee, we studied how this unpredictable object behavior affected the selected
more » ... . The experiment was conducted in a virtual set-up, where subjects moved a cup with a ball inside, modeled by cart-and-pendulum dynamics. Inverse dynamics calculations of the system showed that performing the task with different amplitudes and relative phases required different force profiles and rendered the object's dynamics with different degrees of predictability (quantified by Mutual Information between the applied force and the cup kinematics and its sensitivity). Subjects (n = 8) oscillated the virtual cup between two targets via a robotic manipulandum, paced by a metronome at 1 Hz for 50 trials, each lasting 45 s. They were free to choose their movement amplitude and relative phase between the ball and cup. Experimental results showed that subjects increased their movement amplitudes, which rendered the interactions with the object more predictable and with lower sensitivity to the execution variables. These solutions were associated with higher average exerted force and lower object smoothness, contradicting common expectations from studies on discrete object manipulation and unrestrained movements. Instead, the findings showed that humans selected strategies with higher predictability of interaction dynamics. This finding expressed that humans seek movement strategies where force and kinematics synchronize to repeatable patterns that may require less sensorimotor information processing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003900 pmid:25340581 pmcid:PMC4207605 fatcat:zlykulm6gjczngaj5rtsrih55a