With age, a decline in the temporal aspect of movement is observed such as a longer movement execution time and a decreased timing accuracy. Robotic training can represent an interesting approach to help improve movement timing among the elderly. Two types of robotic training-haptic guidance (HG; demonstrating the correct movement for a better movement planning and improved execution of movement) and error amplification (EA; exaggerating movement errors to have a more rapid and complete learning) have been positively used in young healthy subjects to boost timing accuracy. For healthy seniors, only HG training has been used so far where significant and positive timing gains have been obtained. The goal of the study was to evaluate and compare the impact of both HG and EA robotic trainings on the improvement of seniors' movement timing. Thirty-two healthy seniors (mean age 68 ± 4 years) learned to play a pinball-like game by triggering a one-degree-of-freedom hand robot at the proper time to make a flipper move and direct a falling ball toward a randomly positioned target. During HG and EA robotic trainings, the subjects' timing errors were decreased and increased, respectively, based on the subjects' timing errors in initiating a movement. Results showed that only HG training benefited learning, but the improvement did not generalize to untrained targets. Also, age had no influence on the efficacy of HG robotic training, meaning that the oldest subjects did not benefit more from HG training than the younger senior subjects. Using HG to teach the correct timing of movement seems to be a good strategy to improve motor learning for the elderly as for younger people. However, more studies are needed to assess the long-term impact of HG robotic training on improvement in movement timing.
Bouchard, A. E., Corriveau, H., & Milot, M.-H. (2015). Comparison of haptic guidance and error amplification robotic trainings for the learning of a timing-based motor task by healthy seniors. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 09. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2015.00052