Sonification and haptic feedback in addition to visual feedback enhances complex motor task learning

Exp Brain Res. 2015 Mar;233(3):909-25. doi: 10.1007/s00221-014-4167-7. Epub 2014 Dec 16.


Concurrent augmented feedback has been shown to be less effective for learning simple motor tasks than for complex tasks. However, as mostly artificial tasks have been investigated, transfer of results to tasks in sports and rehabilitation remains unknown. Therefore, in this study, the effect of different concurrent feedback was evaluated in trunk-arm rowing. It was then investigated whether multimodal audiovisual and visuohaptic feedback are more effective for learning than visual feedback only. Naïve subjects (N = 24) trained in three groups on a highly realistic virtual reality-based rowing simulator. In the visual feedback group, the subject's oar was superimposed to the target oar, which continuously became more transparent when the deviation between the oars decreased. Moreover, a trace of the subject's trajectory emerged if deviations exceeded a threshold. The audiovisual feedback group trained with oar movement sonification in addition to visual feedback to facilitate learning of the velocity profile. In the visuohaptic group, the oar movement was inhibited by path deviation-dependent braking forces to enhance learning of spatial aspects. All groups significantly decreased the spatial error (tendency in visual group) and velocity error from baseline to the retention tests. Audiovisual feedback fostered learning of the velocity profile significantly more than visuohaptic feedback. The study revealed that well-designed concurrent feedback fosters complex task learning, especially if the advantages of different modalities are exploited. Further studies should analyze the impact of within-feedback design parameters and the transferability of the results to other tasks in sports and rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Touch Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult