A central problem in motor control relates to the coordination of the arm's many degrees of freedom. This problem concerns the many arm postures (kinematics) that correspond to the same hand position in space and the movement trajectories between begin and end position (dynamics) that result in the same arm postures. The aim of this study was to compare the predictions for arm kinematics by various models on human motor control with experimental data and to study the relation between kinematics and dynamics. Goal-directed arm movements were measured in 3-D space toward far and near targets. The results demonstrate that arm postures for a particular target depend on previous arm postures, contradicting Donders's law. The minimum-work and minimum-torque-change models, on the other hand, predict a much larger effect of initial posture than observed. These data suggest that both kinematics and dynamics affect postures and that their relative contribution might depend on instruction and task complexity.
The authors are with the Dept. of Biophysics, University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.