Generalization of object manipulation skills learned without limb motion

Christopher D. Mah*, Ferdinando A. Mussa-Ivaldi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Recent work suggests that human subjects may learn mappings between object motion and exerted torque during manipulation of freely pivoting or unstable objects. In the present work, we studied an object manipulation task involving no arm movement to determine how subjects internally represent the force-motion relationship of an object during a skilled manipulation task. Human subjects learned to balance a simulated inverted pendulum. The simulation was controlled by pressing on a fixed force sensor, and applied forces resulted in motion of the simulated pendulum on a computer screen according to its equation of motion. Each subject initially learned the task in one arm posture and was tested 1 d later in a new arm posture. In one test condition, the effects of arm torque were matched to the original task, and in the other test condition, the simulation was unchanged. The pattern of skill transfer to different arm postures suggested that subjects had learned joint torque responses rather than a general model of the object interface forces. A second experiment showed that the advantage of training with matched arm torques was object specific, because torque-matched training on a tracking task involving similar forces was not a substitute for training in the balancing task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4821-4825
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2003


  • Balancing
  • Human
  • Internal model
  • Isometric force
  • Motor skills
  • Object manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Generalization of object manipulation skills learned without limb motion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this