Temporal and spatial movement characteristics are often seen as controlled separately, although they are not independent. Even in the case of simple oscillations mean frequency and mean amplitude covary when one or the other is changed intentionally. The present experiment revealed that in rapid finger oscillations there is also a cycle-to-cycle covariation so that smaller amplitudes are associated with locally increased frequency and (the associated) earlier electromyographic (EMG) bursts. Both globally and locally the observed covariations are consistent with modeling rhythmic movements as output of a driven damped oscillator. The existence of local spatio-temporal covariations suggests limitations for models of timing and reasons for the observation that spatio-temporal movement characteristics cannot be chosen arbitrarily even in uniarticular movements.
The author is with the Institut für Arbeitsphysiologie an der Universität Dortmund, 44139 Dortmund, Germany.