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Lawrence Appelbaum, Jillian Clements, Elayna Kirsch, Hrishikesh Rao, Nicholas Potter, Regis Kopper, Marc Sommer; Psychophysiology of Visual-Motor Learning during a Simulated Marksmanship Task in Immersive Virtual Reality
. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):432. doi: 10.1167/18.10.432.
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The ability to coordinate visual information with motor output is essential to a great number of endeavors. In particular, activities such as sports, surgery, and law enforcement rely on efficient reciprocal interactions between visual perception and motor control, allowing individuals to execute precision movements under time-limited, stressful situations. Immersive virtual reality (VR) systems offer flexible control of an interactive environment, along with precise position tracking of realistic movements that can be used in conjunction with neurophysiological monitoring techniques, such as electroencephalography (EEG), to record neural activity as users perform complex tasks. As such, the fusion of immersive VR, kinematic tracking, and EEG offers a powerful testbed for naturalistic neuroscience research. In this study, we combine these elements to investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie motor skill learning during a multi-day simulated marksmanship training protocol conducted with 20 participants. On each of 3 days, participants performed 8 blocks of 60 trials in which a simulated clay pigeon was launched from behind a trap house. Participants attempted to shoot the moving target with a firearm game controller, receiving immediate positional feedback and running scores after each shot. Over the course of 3 days of practice, shot accuracy and precision improved significantly while reaction times got significantly faster. The temporal cascade of target launch-locked psychophysiological responses proceeded with significant visual evoked potentials (VEP) (~120-180), followed by eye movements (measured by EOG, ~190ms), then hand (~200ms) and head (~290 ms) movements. Furthermore, greater amplitudes and earlier latencies in the VEP elicited contralateral-to-target trajectories both correlated with better shooting performance, as measured by reaction times and accuracy. These findings, therefore, point towards a naturalistic neuroscience approach that can be used to characterize learning and identify neural markers predictive of marksmanship performance.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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