Bernstein (1967) suggested that people attempting to learn to perform a difficult motor task try to ameliorate the degrees-of-freedom problem through the use of a developmental progression. Early in training, people maintain a subset of their control parameters (e.g., joint positions) at constant settings and attempt to learn to perform the task by varying the values of the remaining parameters. With practice, people refine and improve this early-learned control strategy by also varying those parameters that were initially held constant. We evaluated Bernstein's proposed developmental progression using six neural network systems and found that a network whose training included developmental progressions of both its trajectory and its feedback gains outperformed all other systems. These progressions, however, yielded performance benefits only on motor tasks that were relatively difficult to learn. We conclude that development can indeed aid motor learning.

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