An internal model for acquisition and retention of motor learning during arm reaching

Luca Lonini, Laura Dipietro, Loredana Zollo, Eugenio Guglielmelli, Hermano Igo Krebs

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Humans have the ability to learn novel motor tasks while manipulating the environment. Several models of motor learning have been proposed in the literature, but few of them address the problem of retention and interference ofmotor memory. The modular selection and identification for control (MOSAIC) model, originally proposed by Wolpert and Kawato, is one of the most relevant contributions; it suggests a possible strategy on how the human motor control system learns and adapts to novel environments. MOSAIC employs the concept of forward and inverse models. The same group later proposed the hidden Markov model (HMM) MOSAIC, which affords learning multiple tasks. The significant drawback of this second approach is that the HMM must be trained with a complete data set that includes all contexts. Since the number of contexts or modules is fixed from the onset, this approach does not afford incremental learning of new tasks. In this letter, we present an alternative architecture to overcome this problem, based on a nonparametric regression algorithm, named locally weighted projection regression (LWPR). This network structure develops according to the contexts allowing incremental training. Of notice, interaction force is used to disambiguate among different contexts. We demonstrate the capability of this alternative architecture with a simulated 2 degree-of-freedom representation of the human arm that learns to interact with three distinct objects, reproducing the same test paradigm of the HMM MOSAIC. After learning the dynamics of the three objects, the LWPR network successfully learns to compensate for a novel velocity-dependent force field. Equally important, it retains previously acquired knowledge on the interactionwith the three objects. Thus, this architecture allows both incremental learning of new tasks and retention of previously acquired knowledge, a feature of human motor learning and memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2009-2027
Number of pages19
JournalNeural Computation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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