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Alexander W. Hooke, Sohit Karol, Jaebum Park, Yoon Hyuk Kim, and Jae Kun Shim

The purpose of this study was to investigate central nervous system (CNS) strategies for controlling multifinger forces during a circle-drawing task. Subjects drew 30 concentric, discontinuous clockwise and counter clockwise circles, at self and experimenter-set paces. The three-dimensional trajectory of the pen’s center of mass and the three-dimensional forces and moments of force at each contact between the hand and the pen were recorded. Uncontrolled Manifold Analysis was used to quantify the synergies between pen-hand contact forces in radial, tangential and vertical directions. Results showed that synergies in the radial and tangential components were significantly stronger than in the vertical component. Synergies in the clockwise direction were significantly stronger than the counterclockwise direction in the radial and vertical components. Pace was found to be insignificant under any condition.

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Jeffery J. Summers, Winston D. Byblow, Don F. Bysouth-Young, and Andras Semjen

Seven right-handed participants performed bimanual circling movements in either a symmetrical or an asymmetrical coordination mode. Movements were paced with an auditory metronome at predetermined frequencies corresponding to transition frequency, where asymmetrical patterns became unstable, or at two-thirds transition frequency, where both symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns were stable. The pacing tones were presented in either a high (1000 Hz) or low (500 Hz) pitch, and the percentage of high-pitched tones during a 20 s trial varied between 0% and 70%. Participants were instructed to count the number of high-pitched pacing tones that occurred during a trial of bimanual circling. Overall, the symmetrical pattern was more stable than the asymmetrical pattern at both frequencies. Errors on the tone-counting task were significantly higher during asymmetrical circling than symmetrical circling but only at the transition movement frequency. The results suggest that cognitive processes play a role in maintaining coordination patterns within regions of instability.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach, Romeo Chua, Brian K. V. Maraj, James C. Kao, and Daniel J. Weeks

Previous experiments involving discrete unimanual tasks have shown that individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have auditory/verbal-motor deficits. The present study investigated unimanual and bimanual continuous perceptual-motor actions in adults with DS. Ten adults with DS, 10 typical adults, and 10 children drew continuous circles at increasing periods bimanually and unimanually with each hand. Movement was paced by either a visual or an auditory metronome. The results revealed that for circle shape and coordination measures, children and adults were more accurate with the visual metronome, whereas adults with DS were more accurate with the auditory metronome. In the unimanual tasks, adults with DS displayed hand asymmetries on spatial measures. In the bimanual task, however, adults with DS adopted an in-phase coordination pattern and stability more similar to adults than children. These results suggest that bimanual coordination in adults with DS is functioning effectively despite hand asymmetries evident in unimanual performance.

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Margaret A. Finley, Laura Dipietro, Jill Ohlhoff, Jill Whitall, Hermano I. Krebs, and Christopher T. Bever

We are expanding the use of the MIT-MANUS robotics to persons with impairments due exclusively to orthopedic disorders, with no neurological deficits. To understand the reliability of repeated measurements of the robotic tasks and the potential for registering changes due to learning is critical. Purposes of this study were to assess the learning effect of repeated exposure to robotic evaluations and to demonstrate the ability to detect a change in protocol in outcome measurements. Ten healthy, unimpaired subjects (mean age = 54.1 ± 6.4 years) performed six repeated evaluations consisting of unconstrained reaching movements to targets and circle drawing (with and without a visual template) on the MIT-MANUS. Reaching outcomes were aiming error, mean and peak speed, movement smoothness and duration. Outcomes for circle drawing were axis ratio metric and shoulder–elbow joint angles correlation metric (was based on a two-link model of the human arm and calculated hand path during the motions). Repeated-measures ANOVA (p ≤ .05) determined if difference existed between the sessions. Intraclass correlations (R) were calculated. All variables were reliable, without learning across testing sessions. Intraclass correlation values were good to high (reaching, R ≥ .80; circle drawing, R ≥ .90). Robotic measurement ability to differentiate between similar but distinct tasks was demonstrated as measured by axis ratio metric (p < .001) and joint correlation metric (p = .001). Outcome measures of the MIT-MANUS proved to be reliable yet sensitive to change in healthy adults without motor learning over the course of repeated measurements.

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Betteco J. de Boer, C. (Lieke) E. Peper, and Peter J. Beek

Developmental changes in bimanual coordination were examined in four age groups: 6/7, 10/11, 14/15 years, and young adults. Temporal coupling was assessed through the stabilizing contributions of interlimb interactions related to planning, error correction, and reflexes during rhythmic wrist movements, by comparing various unimanual and bimanual tasks involving passive and active movements. Spatial coupling was assessed via bimanual line-circle drawing. With increasing age, temporal stability improved. Relative contributions of planning and reflex interactions to the achieved stability did not change, whereas error correction improved. In-phase and antiphase coordination developed at similar rates; implications of this result were discussed in terms of mirror-activity inhibition. Overall spatial drawing performance (circularity, variability, smoothness) improved with age, and spatial interference was smaller in adults than children. Whereas temporal coupling increased from 6/7 years to adulthood, spatial coupling changed mainly after 14/15 years. This difference in the development of temporal and spatial coupling corresponds to the anterior-posterior direction of corpus callosum myelination as reported in the literature.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach and Dawn A. Lantero

This study examined the influences of intention on continuous bimanual circle drawing performed by adults with Down syndrome (DS) and mental age (MA) and chronological age (CA) matched comparison groups. The task was performed with preferred and instructed coordination patterns paced by a 500 ms metronome. While all participants adopted an in-phase coordination mode in the preferred conditions, only the adults with DS were unable to perform in-phase coordination when instructed to do so. We suggest that intention to perform specific coordination patterns taxes the attentional resources available, and mental age may be a precipitating factor to appropriate attention directing when performing multiple tasks. Results are discussed with respect to the developmental differences in attentional resources.