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Reinforcement Learning for Optimal Control of Arm Movements


Conference Paper



Every day motor behavior consists of a plethora of challenging motor skills from discrete movements such as reaching and throwing to rhythmic movements such as walking, drumming and running. How this plethora of motor skills can be learned remains an open question. In particular, is there any unifying computa-tional framework that could model the learning process of this variety of motor behaviors and at the same time be biologically plausible? In this work we aim to give an answer to these questions by providing a computational framework that unifies the learning mechanism of both rhythmic and discrete movements under optimization criteria, i.e., in a non-supervised trial-and-error fashion. Our suggested framework is based on Reinforcement Learning, which is mostly considered as too costly to be a plausible mechanism for learning com-plex limb movement. However, recent work on reinforcement learning with pol-icy gradients combined with parameterized movement primitives allows novel and more efficient algorithms. By using the representational power of such mo-tor primitives we show how rhythmic motor behaviors such as walking, squash-ing and drumming as well as discrete behaviors like reaching and grasping can be learned with biologically plausible algorithms. Using extensive simulations and by using different reward functions we provide results that support the hy-pothesis that Reinforcement Learning could be a viable candidate for motor learning of human motor behavior when other learning methods like supervised learning are not feasible.

Author(s): Theodorou, E and Peters, J. and Schaal, S.
Book Title: Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience.
Year: 2007

Department(s): Autonomous Motion, Empirical Inference
Bibtex Type: Conference Paper (inproceedings)

Cross Ref: p10123
Event Name: Neuroscience 2007
Note: clmc


  title = {Reinforcement Learning for Optimal Control of Arm Movements},
  author = {Theodorou, E and Peters, J. and Schaal, S.},
  booktitle = {Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience.},
  year = {2007},
  note = {clmc},
  crossref = {p10123}