Influence of mechanical interactions between the shoulder and elbow on production of different coordination patterns during horizontal arm movements is investigated in the present study. Subjects performed cyclical movements along a circle and along lines of 4 different orientations. Cycling frequency was manipulated to highlight control features responsible for interactive torque regulation. When the shoulder was involved in motion, torque analysis revealed that this joint was controlled similarly during all movement types. At the elbow, however, each movement type required a specific pattern of regulation of interactive torque with muscle torque. When interactive torque acted in the direction of the required elbow rotation, the demands for active control were lower than when the interactive torque resisted elbow motion and had to be actively suppressed. Kinematic analysis demonstrated that increases in cycling frequency systematically deformed the fingertip path. The amount of these deformations differed across movement types, being more pronounced for movements where the interactive torque resisted joint motion. It appears that interactive torque can assist or resist movement at the joints, making control of some movement types more difficult than others.
The authors are with the Motor Control Laboratory at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0404. In addition, N.V. Dounskaia is with the Institute of Control Sciences in the Russian Academy of Science, Prophsoyuznaya St., 65, Moscow, Russia.