The uncontrolled manifold approach was used to examine the effect of workspace location on the use of motor abundance to control the hand’s path during reaching. Participants pointed to targets located in the contralateral and ipsilateral workspaces at two different distances. When reaching to all parts of the workspace, the component of joint configuration variance consistent with an identical hand path across trials was significantly higher than the component of joint configuration variance leading to a variable hand path. The relative magnitude of this difference was affected primarily by target orientation and minimally by target distance. The control of hand-path direction when reaching ipsilaterally was associated with more selective use of motor abundance compared to reaching contralaterally. The control of hand-path extent was not affected by target orientation. Biomechanical factors are discussed as possible reasons that lead to the observed selective workspace effects.
The authors are with the Biomechanics and Movement Science Program, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. Scholz is also with the university’s Physical Therapy Dept.