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On Primitives in Motor Control

Mark L. Latash

The concept of primitives has been used in motor control both as a theoretical construct and as a means of describing the results of experimental studies involving multiple moving elements. This concept is close to Bernstein’s notion of engrams and level of synergies. Performance primitives have been explored in spaces of peripheral variables but interpreted in terms of neural control primitives. Performance primitives reflect a variety of mechanisms ranging from body mechanics to spinal mechanisms and to supraspinal circuitry. This review suggests that primitives originate at the task level as preferred time functions of spatial referent coordinates or at mappings from higher level referent coordinates to lower level, frequently abundant, referent coordinate sets. Different patterns of performance primitives can emerge depending, in particular, on the external force field.

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Biological Movement and Laws of Physics

Mark L. Latash

Living systems may be defined as systems able to organize new, biology-specific, laws of physics and modify their parameters for specific tasks. Examples include the force-length muscle dependence mediated by the stretch reflex, and the control of movements with modification of the spatial referent coordinates for salient performance variables. Low-dimensional sets of referent coordinates at a task level are transformed to higher-dimensional sets at lower hierarchical levels in a way that ensures stability of performance. Stability of actions can be controlled independently of the actions (e.g., anticipatory synergy adjustments). Unintentional actions reflect relaxation processes leading to drifts of corresponding referent coordinates in the absence of changes in external load. Implications of this general framework for movement disorders, motor development, motor skill acquisition, and even philosophy are discussed.

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The Hand: Shall We Ever Understand How It Works?

Mark L. Latash

The target article presents a review of the neural control of the human hand. The review emphasizes the physical approach to motor control. It focuses on such concepts as equilibrium-point control, control with referent body configurations, uncontrolled manifold hypothesis, principle of abundance, hierarchical control, multidigit synergies, and anticipatory synergy adjustments. Changes in aspects of the hand neural control with age and neurological disorder are discussed. The target article is followed by six commentaries written by Alexander Aruin, Kelly Cole, Monica Perez, Robert Sainburg, Marco Sanello, and Wei Zhang.

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Movement System Variability

Mark L. Latash

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Brain Mechanisms for the Integration of Posture and Movement: (Progress in Brain Research, vol. 143)

Mark L. Latash

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A New Biography of Nikolai Bernstein

Edited by Mark L. Latash

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Introduction to the Special Z-Issue in Honor of the 90th Birthday of Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

Mark L. Latash

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Optimality, Stability, and Agility of Human Movement: New Optimality Criterion and Trade-Offs

Mark L. Latash

This review of movement stability, optimality, and agility is based on the theory of motor control with changes in spatial referent coordinates for the effectors, the principle of abundance, and the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis. A new optimality principle is suggested based on the concept of optimal sharing corresponding to a vector in the space of elemental variables locally orthogonal to the uncontrolled manifold. Motion along this direction is associated with minimal components along the relatively unstable directions within the uncontrolled manifold leading to a minimal motor equivalent motion. For well-practiced actions, this task-specific criterion is followed in spaces of referent coordinates. Consequences of the suggested framework include trade-offs among stability, optimality, and agility, unintentional changes in performance, hand dominance, finger specialization, individual traits in performance, and movement disorders in neurological patients.

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Motor Control— Finally, a Journal for All of Us

Edited by Mark L. Latash

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Motor Control Summer School: The First Ten Years

Mark L. Latash