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Gertjan J.C. Ettema, Emma Taylor, J. David North and Vaughan Kippers

This study’s aim was to identify the effect of oscillation of torques in isometric tasks under identical mechanical conditions on the muscle synergies used. It was hypothesized that bi-functional muscles would play a lesser role in torque oscillation, because they would also generate an undesired oscillation. Thus, changes in muscle synergies were expected as a consequence of oscillation in torque generation. The effect of the trajectory of torque generation was investigated in dual-degrees-of-freedom submaximal isometric oscillation torque tasks at the elbow. The torques were flexion-extension and supination-pronation. Oscillation torques were compared with static torque generations at four torque positions during oscillation. Muscle activity was determined with surface electromyography. Compared with the static torque tasks, the oscillation tasks showed an overall increased muscle activity. The oscillation tasks, however, showed similar activity patterns and muscle synergies compared to the static composite tasks. It was found that the motor system is well able to control different orthogonal combinations of slow torque oscillations and constant torques by employing a single oscillating muscle synergy.

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Paul G. Taylor, Michael Small, Kwee-Yum Lee, Raul Landeo, Damien M. O’Meara and Emma L. Millett

Entropy is an effective tool for investigation of human movement variability. However, before applying entropy, it can be beneficial to employ analyses to confirm that observed data are not solely the result of stochastic processes. This can be achieved by contrasting observed data with that produced using surrogate methods. Unlike continuous movement, no appropriate method has been applied to discrete human movement. This article proposes a novel surrogate method for discrete movement data, outlining the processes for determining its critical values. The proposed technique reliably generated surrogates for discrete joint angle time series, destroying fine-scale dynamics of the observed signal, while maintaining macro structural characteristics. Comparison of entropy estimates indicated observed signals had greater regularity than surrogates and were not only the result of stochastic but also deterministic processes. The proposed surrogate method is both a valid and reliable technique to investigate determinism in other discrete human movement time series.