Motor programs

Throughout our lives, we develop fine motor skills to accomplish many specific tasks, such as writing text, tying shoelaces, throwing a ball, and riding a bicycle. These are often called motor programs, and are learned through repetitive trials, with gradual improvements in precision and ease as the amount of practice increases [198]. Eventually, we produce the motions without even having to pay attention to them. For example, most people can drive a car without paying attention to particular operations of the steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator.

In the same way, most of us have learned how to use interfaces to computers, such as keyboards, mice, and game controllers. Some devices are easier to learn than others. For example, a mouse does not take long, but typing quickly on a keyboard takes years to master. What makes one skill harder to learn than another? This is not always easy to predict, as illustrated by the backwards brain bicycle, which was designed by Destin Sandlin by reversing the steering operation so that turning the handlebars left turns the front wheel to the right [21]. It took Sandlin six months learn how to ride it, and at the end he was unable to ride an ordinary bicycle. Thus, he unlearned how to ride a normal bicycle at the expense of learning the new one.

Steven M LaValle 2020-01-06