A new perspective on how we learn motor skills: two adaptation classes?

ARC Discovery Project

Research Team: Professor Tim Carroll, Prof Reza Shadmehr

Funding Body: ARC Discovery Projects

Years: 2023-2025

Accurate body movements are crucial for success for most of the tasks we face in life – ranging from the common tasks we complete in work and recreation to the highly specialised tasks faced in elite sport and military settings.

This project seeks to explain the brain processes that allow us to maintain movement accuracy despite changes in our bodies, for example when we are tired or change our posture, and the environment, such as when the weight or position of objects vary.

The project will test the idea that distinct types of movement error cause fundamentally different brain adaptations that support learning.

This may identify new strategies for acquiring motor skills that are widely applicable. For example, the work may influence protocols for learning how to remotely operate machinery and medical devices, and to control aircraft and other vehicles.

Enhancements in motor learning protocols could benefit Australia by reducing accidents, increasing productivity, and improving community engagement with technology. Translation of the project outcomes to practical adoption will be achieved through links with aircraft manufacturers, defence agencies, and medical research institutes.

Project members

Professor Timothy Carroll

Professor and Deputy Head of School
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences