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Mark L. Latash

The problem of motor redundancy has been one of the fundamental, albeit elusive, problems in motor control. Traditionally, it has been viewed as a computational problem for the brain, solved with either optimization methods or by introducing additional constraints to motor tasks. This review suggests that the problem was wrongly formulated, and that the abundant degrees of freedom are not to be eliminated but used to ensure dynamic stability of motor performance, which is vital given the unpredictable intrinsic states and external forces. The idea of synergies as mechanisms ensuring action stability is introduced based on the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis and the theory of control with spatial referent coordinates. The importance of controlled stability is illustrated with the phenomena of anticipatory synergy adjustments. This approach is productive for both basic and applied fields as illustrated, in particular, by changes in motor synergies with neurological disorder and exercise.

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Edited by Mark L. Latash

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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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Edited by Mark L. Latash

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Mark L. Latash

The article offers a way to unite three recent developments in the field of motor control and coordination: (1) The notion of synergies is introduced based on the principle of motor abundance; (2) The uncontrolled manifold hypothesis is described as offering a computational framework to identify and quantify synergies; and (3) The equilibrium-point hypothesis is described for a single muscle, single joint, and multijoint systems. Merging these concepts into a single coherent scheme requires focusing on control variables rather than performance variables. The principle of minimal final action is formulated as the guiding principle within the referent configuration hypothesis. Motor actions are associated with setting two types of variables by a controller, those that ultimately define average performance patterns and those that define associated synergies. Predictions of the suggested scheme are reviewed, such as the phenomenon of anticipatory synergy adjustments, quick actions without changes in synergies, atypical synergies, and changes in synergies with practice. A few models are briefly reviewed.

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Mark L. Latash

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Mark L. Latash

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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.