Bested, S. R., Manson, G. A., & Tremblay, L. (2019). Combining unassisted and robot-guided practice benefits motor learning for a golf putting task. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 7 (3), 408-425.
Robotic guidance has been employed with limited effectiveness in neurologically intact and patient populations. For example, our lab has effectively used robotic guidance to acutely improve movement smoothness of a discrete trajectory without influencing movement endpoint distributions. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the efficacy of combining robotic guidance and unassisted trials in the learning of a golf putting task. Participants completed a pre-test, an acquisition phase, and an immediate and delayed (24-hour) post-test. During the pre-test, kinematic data from the putter was converted into highly accurate, consistent, and smooth trajectories delivered by a robot arm. During acquisition, three groups performed putts towards three different targets with robotic guidance on either 0%, 50%, or 100% of acquisition trials. Only the 50% guidance group statistically reduced both the ball endpoint distance and variability between the pre-test and the immediate or 24-hr post-test. The results of the 50% guidance group yielded seminal evidence that combining both unassisted and robotic guidance trials (i.e., mixed practice) could facilitate at least short-term motor learning for a golf putting task. Such work is relevant to incorporating robotic guidance in sport skills and other practical areas (e.g., rehabilitation).
robotic guidance, motor learning, principles of practice