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OS_22. Motor control

Saturday, October 01st,   2011 [14:20 - 16:00]


OS_22.1 - The effect of exercise on short-term memory subsystems

Tessari, A. 1, 2 , Perazzolo, M. 2 , Ceciliani, A. 2, 3 & Ottoboni, G. 1

1 Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy
2 Faculty of Motor Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy
3 Department of Education Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy

Due to the arousal increment, physical exercise has been shown to improve cognitive abilities such as frontal and long-term memory processes. In the present work we aim at understanding whether different types of physical exercise -i.e. team-games, mainly relying on visuo-spatial abilities, and circuits, mainly relying on motor patterns- might specifically modulate different short-term-memory (STM) subsystems. We compared the performances on verbal, visuo-spatial, and motor STM spans in 3 groups of 10-11-years-old children: the control group was tested before and after an Italian class, the second group before and after 40-minutes on a circuit exercise and the third group before and after 40-minutes of team-game. Besides a general incremented performance, a double dissociation emerged: while the circuit improved the motor span, the team-game did the same for the visuo-spatial span However, no effect emerged in the control group. The finding might cast useful insight about how structuring specific training activities for children with learning deficits because it claims the specific positive effects of sport on different cognitive abilities.

OS_22.2 - The brain minds whether we believ in free will

Rigoni, D. 1, 2, 3 , Brass, M. 2 & Burle, B. 1

1 Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, CNRS, Université de Provence, Marseille, France
2 Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
3 Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Italia

The feeling of being in control of one’s own actions is a strong and pervasive subjective experience. Yet, recent discoveries in psychology and cognitive neuroscience challenge the validity of this experience and suggest that free will is just an illusion. This raises a crucial question: What would happen if people started to really disbelieve in free will? Previous research has shown that low control beliefs affect negatively performance and motivation. More recently, it has been shown that undermining free-will beliefs increases antisocial tendencies and aggressive behavior. Here we report a series of neurophysiological studies showing that undermining beliefs in free will affects brain processing related to motor control. In particular, people induced to disbelieve in free will show reduced cortical preparation for action and less intentional inhibition. Our findings indicate that abstract belief systems might have a much more fundamental effect on brain functioning than previously thought.

OS_22.3 - Effect anticipation is an integral part of response preparation: New evidence from an interference paradigm

Ziessler, M. 1 & Nattkemper, D. 2

1 Department of Psychology, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
2 Department of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin, Berlin, Germany

It has been argued that the preparation of an action includes the anticipation of its proximal and distal effects (forward models). In turn, the selection of actions is assumed to be based on the anticipated effects (inverse models, ideomotor principle). Evidence for the anticipation of action effects comes mainly from experiments in which the effects were actually presented. However, it can be argued that this evidence is an artefact of the method; effect codes were only activated because the effects were presented as external stimuli. Therefore we cannot conclude from these experiments that response preparation would normally include anticipation of effects. We present new experiments avoiding this problem. Participants first learned effects of key-pressing responses (the appearance of hand gestures on the screen). In the following test phase participants were asked to withhold their response to the target stimulus until a go-signal appeared (picture of an object). The go-signal was either compatible or incompatible with the learned effect. Responses were faster in compatible trials. This is strong evidence for an activation of effect codes as part of the preparation of the responses. Only then the compatibility between go-signal and effects could affect response times.

OS_22.4 - Higher-order representations of newly learnt action sounds in the human motor system

Waszak, F. 1 , Schuetz-Bosbach, S. 2 , Weiss, C. 2 & Ticini, L. 2

1 LPP, CNRS, Paris, France
2 MPI CBS, Leipzig, Germany

Our brain is able to recognize action sounds by representing them as motor events. Previous studies have demonstrated somatotopic activation of the listener's motor cortex during perception of the sound of over-familiar motor acts. The present experiments asked (i) how the motor system is activated by the sounds of actions that are newly acquired, and (ii) whether action-related sounds are represented with reference to extrinsic features related to action goals rather than with respect to lower-level intrinsic parameters related to the specific movements. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to measure the correspondence between auditory and motor codes in the listener’s motor system. We compared the corticomotor excitability in response to the presentation of auditory stimuli before and after a short perceptuomotor training, in which voluntary actions were associated with arbitrary perceivable consequences void of a motoric meaning before training. Novel auditory-motor representations became manifest very rapidly. Indeed, passive listening to newly learnt action-related sounds activated a precise motor representation that took into account the variable contexts to which the individual was exposed to. Our results suggest that the human brain embodies a higher-order auditomotor representation of perceived actions, which is muscle-independent and corresponds to the action’s goals.

OS_22.5 - Body Schema plasticity without proprioception: evidence from a deafferented patient

Cardinali, L. 1, 2 , Brozzoli, C. 3 , Luauté, J. . 1, 4 , Roy, A. C. 2, 5 & Farnè, A. 1, 2

1 IMPACT, Neuroscience Research Center, Lyon, France
2 Université Claude Bernard-Lyon1, Lyon, France
3 Department of Neuroscience, Brain, Body & Self Laboratory, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
4 Hospices Civils de Lyon, Service de Rééducation Neurologique, Lyon, France
5 L2C2, Institut des Sciences Cognitives, Bron, France

We investigated the plasticity of the body representation for action (Body Schema, BS) by studying tool-use in a deafferented patient, C.D., with a peripheral deafferentation of the right arm. We asked C.D. to grasp an object with both her right (deafferented) or left hand and a mechanical grab. We then analysed her kinematics. We found that double peaks of acceleration and velocity characterized the kinematic of the deafferented hand. The same kinematic profile was present when the same hand was controlling the tool. Moreover, the patient showed a relatively fast process of learning in using the tool, since the kinematics evolved during the training. This pattern was not present for the left hand as there was no difference between first and last block of movements, in line with what we showed in a previous study in normal subjects, who did not show motor learning in using the same tool. Finally, in the post-training, the deafferented hand showed a normal kinematic profile that was still present 6 months later. In conclusion, to use a grabber that normally does not imply motor learning, C.D. shows a process of motor learning that is likely guided by visual information and affects subsequent free-hand movements

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