Qualitative and quantitative assessment of motor expertise in restoration students

Maartje Stols-Witlox and Katinka van der Kooij

When looking at a restored painting, we see the work of a conservator with highly developed practical skill. A conservator cannot rely on a predefined set of motor actions. Because each painting is different, a conservator continually adapts his or her actions. When cleaning a painting for instance, a conservator needs to explore the amount of pressure that is sufficient to remove dirt and doesn’t damage the painting. This expert motor exploration can be defined from different perspectives. Conservation teachers use a holistic approach that evaluates the integration of different elements and relates these to the results, while neuroscience takes an atomistic approach that uses simplified tasks to study individual elements that contribute to expertise. In this project we ask to what extent these approaches are complementary, by observing restoration students at work and experimentally comparing the behavior of restoration students and novices in a simplified motor task.