Postural adjustments as an acquired motor skill: Delayed gains and robust retention after a single training session within a virtual environment

Orit Elion, Yotam Bahat, Itamar Sela, Itzhack Siev-Ner, Patrice Weiss, Avi Karni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Postural adjustments are essential for voluntary movement as they provide the foundation for motor performance. Yet the time-course of learning postural adjustments, the specificity of learning and the ability to effectively retain this knowledge are not well known. The objective of this research was to study the characteristics of the acquisition of postural control skills in healthy adults within a virtual environment (VE). Seven healthy young adults, aged 20-40 years (mean ± SD = 28.6 ± 2.7), performed a single training session in a VE in which maintenance of balance on a moving platform according to a given road scenario, as well as a secondary visual target reaching task were required, in repeated runs. Balance performance was assessed during training and additional assessments were performed at 24 hours and 4 weeks post-training. The results showed that the Center of Pressure (CoP) displacement decreased during the training session (P=0.001) and continued to decrease 24 hours post-training (P=0.01) (i.e., a delayed gain in skill). The gains were robustly maintained and increased by 4 (p=0.008) and 12 (p=0.005) weeks post training. New learning occurred when the secondary task was made more demanding but was not required, and when the path traveled was experienced without the secondary task or with eyes closed. Thus, a single balance maintenance training session in a VE setting was sufficient to trigger a learning process of balance control resulting in immediate gains, delayed gains and robust retention. The time-course (including the expression of delayed gains, i.e., a consolidation phase) and magnitude of this learning process appear to be similar to that which takes place during volitional manual task learning.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2008 Virtual Rehabilitation, IWVR
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event2008 Virtual Rehabilitation, IWVR - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Duration: 25 Aug 200827 Aug 2008

Publication series

Name2008 Virtual Rehabilitation, IWVR


Conference2008 Virtual Rehabilitation, IWVR
CityVancouver, BC


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