Effect of Dyadic Haptic Collaboration on Ankle Motor Learning and Task Performance

Sangjoon J. Kim, Yue Wen, Daniel Ludvig, Emek Baris Kucuktabak, Matthew R. Short, Kevin Lynch, Levi Hargrove, Eric J. Perreault, Jose L. Pons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Optimizing skill acquisition during novel motor tasks and regaining lost motor functions have been the interest of many researchers over the past few decades. One approach shown to accelerate motor learning involves haptically coupling two individuals through robotic interfaces. Studies have shown that an individual's solo performance during upper-limb tracking tasks may improve after haptically-coupled training with a partner. In this study, our goal was to investigate whether these findings can be translated to lower-limb motor tasks, more specifically, during an ankle position tracking task. Using one-degree-of-freedom ankle movements, pairs of participants (i.e., dyads) tracked target trajectories independently. Participants alternated between tracking trials with and without haptic coupling, achieved by rendering a virtual spring between two ankle rehabilitation robots. In our analysis, we compared changes in task performance across trials while training with and without haptic coupling. The tracking performance of both individuals (i.e., dyadic task performance) improved during haptic coupling, which was likely due to averaging of random errors of the dyadic pair during tracking. However, we found that dyadic haptic coupling did not lead to faster individual learning for the tracking task. These results suggest that haptic coupling between unimpaired individuals may not be an effective method of training ankle movements during a simple, one-degree-of-freedom task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-425
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
StatePublished - 2023


  • Motor learning
  • haptic rendering
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • General Neuroscience
  • Internal Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering


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