Multijoint arm movements: Predictions and observations regarding initial muscle activity at the shoulder and elbow.
AuthorKarst, Gregory Mark.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractUnderstanding the control strategies that underlie multijoint limb movements is important to researchers in motor control, robotics, and medicine. Due to dynamic interactions between limb segments, choosing appropriate muscle activations for initiating multijoint arm movements is a complex problem, and the rules by which the nervous system makes such choices are not yet understood. The aim of the dissertation studies was to evaluate some proposed initiation rules based on their ability to correctly predict which shoulder and elbow muscles initiated planar, two-joint arm movements in various directions. Kinematic and electromyographic data were collected from thirteen subjects during pointing movements involving shoulder and elbow rotations in the horizontal plane. One of the rules tested, which is based on statics, predicted that the initial muscle activity at each joint is chosen such that the hand exerts an initial force in the direction of the target, while another rule, based on dynamics, predicted initial muscle activity such that the initial acceleration of the hand is directed toward the target. For both rules, the data contradict the predicted initial shoulder muscle activity for certain movement directions. Moreover, the effects of added inertial loads predicted by the latter rule were not observed when a 1.8 kg mass was added to the limb. The results indicated, however, that empirically derived rules, based on ψ, the target direction relative to the distal segment, could predict which muscles would be chosen to initiate movement in a given direction. Furthermore, the relative timing and magnitude of initial muscle activity at the shoulder and elbow varied systematically with ψ. Thus, the target direction relative to the forearm may be an important variable in determining initial muscle activations for multijoint arm movements. These findings suggest a control scheme for movement initiation in which simple rules suffice to launch the hand in the approximate direction of the target by first specifying a basic motor output pattern, then modulating the relative timing and magnitude of that pattern.