Biofeedback and Differential Conditioning of Response Patterns in the Skeletal Motor System
While biofeedback techniques are being extensively applied in operantly conditioning an impressive variety of central and autonomic nervous system responses, our ignorance of the neural mechanisms underlying operant learning remains virtually complete. Indeed, we still have the most elementary and speculative conception of how the nervous system initiates a simple voluntary motor response, no less how the occurrence of such a response can be modified by reinforcement. Our understanding of neural mechanisms underlying operant responding will probably advance soonest in the skeletal motor system, for several reasons. A basic understanding of the neural pathways converging onto spinal motoneurons has emerged from a century of anatomical and electrophysiological studies. More recently developed experimental techniques now make it possible to study activity of identified neurons in awake animals trained to perform relevant motor responses. In such experiments, biofeedback techniques could prove particularly useful in investigating functional relations between elements of the skeletal motor system. We will first review some relevant facts concerning the functional organization of the final elements in the skeletal motor system and then consider past and potential applications of biofeedback techniques to investigate this system.
KeywordsMotor Unit Pyramidal Tract Correlate Response Precentral Cell Extensor Carpus Radialis
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