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Should the Equilibrium Point Hypothesis (EPH) Be Considered a Scientific Theory?

Robert L. Sainburg

The purpose of this commentary is to discuss factors that limit consideration of the equilibrium point hypothesis as a scientific theory. The EPH describes control of motor neuron threshold through the variable lambda, which corresponds to a unique referent configuration for a muscle, joint, or combination of joints. One of the most compelling features of the equilibrium point hypothesis is the integration of posture and movement control into a single mechanism. While the essential core of the hypothesis is based upon spinal circuitry interacting with peripheral mechanics, the proponents have extended the theory to include the higher-level processes that generate lambda, and in doing so, imposed an injunction against the supraspinal nervous system modeling, computing, or predicting dynamics. This limitation contradicts evidence that humans take account of body and environmental dynamics in motor selection, motor control, and motor adaptation processes. A number of unresolved limitations to the EPH have been debated in the literature for many years, including whether muscle resistance to displacement, measured during movement, is adequate to support this form of control, violations in equifinality predictions, spinal circuits that alter the proposed invariant characteristic for muscles, and limitations in the description of how the complexity of spinal circuitry might be integrated to yield a unique and stable equilibrium position for a given motor neuron threshold. In addition, an important empirical limitation of EPH is the measurement of the invariant characteristic, which needs to be done under a constant central state. While there is no question that the EPH is an elegant and generative hypothesis for motor control research, the claim that this hypothesis has reached the status of a scientific theory is premature.

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Acute Effects of Local High-Frequency Percussive Massage on Deep Fascial and Muscular Stiffness and Joint Range of Motion in Young Adult Men

Zijian Liu, Yicheng Zhong, Toshihiro Maemichi, Qianhui Zhou, Takumi Okunuki, Yanshu Li, Wakamiya Kazuki, and Tsukasa Kumai

, Gandevia SC . The human muscle spindle and its fusimotor control . In: Ferrell WR , Proske U , eds. Neural Control of Movement . Springer US ; 1995 : 19 – 25 . 38. Eriksson Crommert M , Lacourpaille L , Heales LJ , Tucker K , Hug F . Massage induces an immediate, albeit short

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On Primitives in Motor Control

Mark L. Latash

of this concept compatible with the approach to the neural control of movement based on laws of nature, the physical approach. The notion of primitives has been used in fields other than motor control, in particular in studies of perception (e.g.,  Logothetis & Sheinberg, 1996 ) and cognition (e

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Effects of Voluntary Agonist–Antagonist Coactivation on Stability of Vertical Posture

Momoko Yamagata, Ali Falaki, and Mark L. Latash

. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120 , 88 – 104 . PubMed ID: 29589812 doi:10.1152/jn.00084.2018 10.1152/jn.00084.2018 Latash , M.L. , & Huang , X. ( 2015 ). Neural control of movement stability: Lessons from studies of neurological patients . Neuroscience, 301 , 39 – 48 . PubMed ID: 26047732

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

Mark L. Latash

primarily in the field of biomechanics, and I performed studies of human motor control and movement disorders in neurological patients. Vladimir’s interest toward the field of the neural control of movement can be traced back to the mid-1960s when he met Nikolai Bernstein and also developed interactions

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The Role of Imitation, Primitives, and Spatial Referent Coordinates in Motor Control: Implications for Writing and Reading

Shelia Guberman and Mark L. Latash

The main goal of this paper is to unite intuitive ideas, such as the imitation principle ( Bongard, 1970 ) and the idea of building blocks (primitives, reviewed in Latash, 2020b ) for complex skills, with the theory of the neural control of movement with spatial referent coordinates (RCs; reviewed

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Anterior–Posterior Balance Perturbation Protocol Using Lifelike Virtual Reality Environment

Gustavo Sandri Heidner, Patrick M. Rider, J.C. Mizelle, Caitlin M. O’Connell, Nicholas P. Murray, and Zachary J. Domire

neural control of movement has redundancy and motor tasks are dependent on environmental complexity, which lead to intertrial variations of the motor control and execution processes, even though the same goal is achieved in a certain task. 12 Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the

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Reliability of Shoulder Helical Axes During Intransitive and Transitive Upper Limb Tasks

Paola Adamo, Federico Temporiti, Martina Maffeis, Francesco Bolzoni, and Roberto Gatti

): 3215 – 3229 . doi:10.1152/jn.00816.2016 10. Latash ML . Biomechanics as a window into the neural control of movement . J Hum Kinet . 2016 ; 52 ( 1 ): 7 – 20 . doi:10.1515/hukin-2015-0190 11. Adamo P , Oddenino F , De Leo D , et al . Dispersion of knee helical axes during walking after

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The Relationship Between Surface Electromyographic Activity and Torque Production of the Infraspinatus Muscle in Shoulder Rehabilitation Exercises

Bill Stodart, Maria Cup, and Curtis Kindel

information about the neural control of movement, it does not provide direct information about muscle force.” Within the current trend of considering EMG activity for exercise selection, there are several exercises considered best for shoulder rehabilitation. 1 , 2 , 11 Currently, it is accepted by some

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The Influence of Recent Actions and Anticipated Actions on the Stability of Finger Forces During a Tracking Task

Mitchell Tillman and Satyajit Ambike

, mechanisms, and functions . Journal of Neurophysiology, 120 ( 1 ), 88 – 104 . PubMed ID: 29589812 doi:10.1152/jn.00084.2018 10.1152/jn.00084.2018 Latash , M.L. , & Huang , X. ( 2015 ). Neural control of movement stability: Lessons from studies of neurological patients . Neuroscience, 301, 39