Science Experiments

Motor learning

Sun, 26th Oct 2008

Listen Now    Download as mp3 Part 1,2 from the show All in the Mind - Beauty, Dancing and PTSD

What you Need

A computer mouse

A mouse

A computer

A computer


A brain, your own will do

What to do

Get used to using the mouse on your computer.

Now change the sensitivity of the mouse.

Try using it.

Practise for 10 minutes until you can accurately click on things again.

Now turn the sensitivity back to how it was to being with.

How does it feel now?

What may happen

You should find that when you change the sensitivity settings on your mouse it feels all wrong and you repeatedly over- or undershoot the icon you are looking for. But, as you practise, you get better until the new settings begin to feel normal. Then, when you change things back to how they were when you started, everything feels wrong again for a while.

We did something very similar on the show. We got Ben to try throwing a ball at me. To start with his aim wasn't bad. He then put on a pair of prismatic glasses, which bent the light coming into his eyes by about 15. This put his aim off until he had practised for 5 minutes, at which point his accuracy returned and he could hit me again with the ball. But when he tried with his left hand, with which he hadn't practiced since putting on the goggles, he was still way off.


Ben in the goggles

Through the prism goggles

Ben in the fetching goggles

The goggles move the image

He then took off the goggles. But now his right hand began missing me again, and in the opposite direction.


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