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Interaction forces learnable by observation

Trainee Achievements

Interaction forces learnable by observation

Paul Wanda, a recent trainee, identified that humans can learn about interaction forces by watching other people interact with that force. Traditionally, within behavioral neuroscience, learning to generate the correct muscle output to complete a task requires direct practice - watching someone ride a bike does not train one to ride a bike. A curious exception, however, occurs in coaching - both sports and rehabilitative performance gets coached by someone else demonstrating a movement. Dr. Wanda invented psychophysical techniques to ask whether forces generated by a manipulable robot could be learned by observation. Although observers learned less completely than subjects who moved the robot directly, observers learned both the appropriate direction and appropriate timing of forces to produce to counter the robot's perturbation, suggesting that precise details of the forces are indeed learnable by observation. This work was published in 2013 in the Journal of Neurophysiology.