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Joint-Action Coordination of Redundant Force Contributions in a Virtual Lifting Task

Jurjen Bosga and Ruud G. J. Meulenbroek

In this study we investigated redundancy control in joint action. Ten participantpairs (dyads) performed a virtual lifting task in which isometric forces needed to be generated with two or four hands. The participants were not allowed to communicate but received continuous visual feedback of their performance. When the task had to be performed with four hands, participants were confronted with a redundant situation and between-hand force synergies could, in principle, be formed. Performance timing, success rates, cross-correlations, and relative phase analyses of the force-time functions were scrutinized to analyze such task-dependent synergies. The results show that even though the dyads performed the task slower and less synchronized in the joint than in the solo conditions, the success rates in these conditions were identical. Moreover, correlation and relative phase analyses demonstrated that, as expected, the dyads formed between-participant synergies that were indicative of force sharing in redundant task conditions.

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Intra- and Interpersonal Movement Coordination in Jointly Moving a Rocking Board

Jurjen Bosga, Ruud G. J. Meulenbroek, and Raymond H. Cuijpers

In this study, we investigate how two persons (dyads) coordinate their movements when performing cyclical motion patterns on a rocking board. In keeping with the Leading Joint Hypothesis (Dounskaia, 2005), the movement dynamics of the collaborating participants were expected to display features of a prime mover with low movement variability. Fourteen subject pairs performed the task in nine amplitude-frequency combinations that were presented in the form of a to-be-tracked stimulus on a computer display. Participants were asked to track the stimulus by jointly rocking the Board sideways while receiving continuous visual feedback of its rotations. Displacements of 28 IREDS that were attached to the rocking board, both ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and heads of both actors, were sampled at 75 Hz by means of a 3D-motion tracking system. From these data, we derived body-segment angular excursions as well as the continuous relative phase and time-lagged cross-correlations between relevant joint excursions. The results show that, at the intrapersonal level, knee rotations initially led all other joints in time while the antiphase coordination between the knees displayed relative low variability. At the interpersonal level, dyads adopted a leader-follower strategy with respect to the coordination demands of the task. We take that knee rotations create a dynamic foundation at both intra- and interpersonal levels involving subordination of individual action to joint performance thereby allowing for low-dimensional control of joint action in a high-dimensional, repetitive motor task.

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Path Curvature in Workspace and in Joint Space: Evidence for Coexisting Coordinative Rules in Aiming

Edwin Van Thiel, Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek, and Wouter Hulstijn

In this study we tried to establish whether point-to-point aiming movements are planned in workspace, joint space, or both. Eight right-handed subjects performed horizontal, vertical, and diagonal aiming movements on a transversal plane. Movements were performed at several speeds. Curvature variations of the hand and corresponding joint-space paths were investigated as a function of position, direction, and speed. Straightness of hand paths predominated for vertical movements but was systematically violated for horizontal and top-right to bottom-left movements. Furthermore, the hand-path curvature of the latter movements increased with speed. Joint-space paths showed more deviation from a straight line than hand paths except for top-left to bottom-right movements in which the paths were equally curved. A comparison of normalized path curvatures at the hand and joint level indicated that in aiming, the coordinative rule of straight-line production seems to apply to both workspace and joint-space planning. The present findings confirm Kawato's (1996) views that optimization processes operate concurrently at the two control levels of arm-trajectory formation under study.

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Emerging Behavioral Flexibility in Loop Writing: A longitudinal study in 7- to 9-Year-Old Primary School Children

Ida M. Bosga-Stork, Jurjen Bosga, and Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek

The development of the ability to adapt one’s motor performance to the constraints of a movement task was examined in a longitudinal study involving 7 to-9-year-old children who were asked to perform a preparatory handwriting task. The capacity for sensorimotor synchronization was captured by the standard deviation of the relative phase between pacing signals and writing movements and the capacity to adjust wrist-finger coordination while performing repetitive movements was analyzed by autocorrelations of the vertical pen-tip displacements. While the capacity for synchronization improved with age, the autocorrelations were positive at short time lags only and hardly changed with age. A measure of “the long-term memory” of time series (Hurst exponent) confirmed that the findings were systematic rather than noise. Collectively, the results indicate that flexible movement strategies emerge early on in the first 3 years of formal handwriting education. Implications for educational and clinical practice are considered.

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Effects of Mirror and Metronome Use on Spontaneous Dance Movements

Derrick D. Brown, Jurjen Bosga, and Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek

This study investigated effects of mirror and metronome use on spontaneous upper body movements by 10 preprofessional dancers in a motor task in which maximally diverse upper body movement patterns were targeted. Hand and trunk accelerations were digitally recorded utilizing accelerometers and analyzed using polar frequency distributions of the realized acceleration directions and sample entropy of the acceleration time. Acceleration directions were more variably used by the arms than by the torso, particularly so when participants monitored their performance via a mirror. Metronome use hardly affected the predictability of the acceleration time series. The findings underscore the intrinsic limitations that people experience when being asked to move randomly and reveal moderate effects of visual and acoustic constraints on doing so in dance.

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Planning Reaching and Grasping Movements: The Problem of Obstacle Avoidance

Jonathan Vaughan, David A. Rosenbaum, and Ruud G. J. Meulenbroek

In this article, we review a model of the movement-planning processes that people use for direct reaching, reaching around obstacles, and grasping, and we present observations of subjects' repeated movements of the hand to touch 2 target locations, circumventing an intervening obstacle. The model defines an obstacle as a posture that, if adopted, would intersect with any part of the environment (including the actor himself or herself). The model finds a trajectory that is likely to bring the end-effector to me target by means of a one- or two-stage planning process. Each stage exploits the principles of instance retrieval and instance generation. In the first stage, a goal posture is identified, and the trajectory of a direct transition to that posture is tested for collision. If that direct movement has no collision, the movement to the target is immediately executed in joint space. If. however, the direct movement is foreseen to result in a collision, a second planning stage is invoked. The second planning stage identifies a via posture, movement through which will probably avoid the collision. Movement to and from the via posture is then superimposed on the main movement to the target so that the combined movement reaches the target without colliding with intervening obstacles. We describe the details of instance retrieval and instance generation for each of these planning stages and compare the model's performance with the observed kinematics of direct movements as well as movements around an obstacle. Then we suggest how the model might contribute to the study of movements in people with motor disorders such as spastic hemiparesis.

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Planning Reaching and Grasping Movements: Theoretical Premises and Practical Implications

David A. Rosenbaum, Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek, and Jonathan Vaughan

This paper presents the background, premises, and results of a model of movement planning. The model's central claims are fourfold: (a) A task is defined by a set of prioritized requirements, or what we call a constraint hierarchy; (b) movement planning works first by specifying a goal posture and then by specifying a movement to that goal posture; (c) movements have characteristic forms; and (d) movements can be shaped through simultaneous performance of different movements, even by the same effector. We review the model and then speculate on its implications for clinical concerns, especially spasticity.

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Movement-Accuracy Control in Tetraparetic Cerebral Palsy: Effects of Removing Visual Information of the Moving Limb

Dominique van Roon, Bert Steenbergen, and Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek

People with cerebral palsy (CP) are known to rely heavily on visual guidance when making targeted upper-limb movements. In the present study, we examined whether being able to visually monitor the moving limb forms a precondition for people with CP to make accurate upper-limb movements. Eight participants with tetraparetic CP and eight controls were asked to produce large-amplitude, straight-line drawing movements on a digitizing tablet. In half the trials, vision of the moving limb was blocked. Accuracy constraints were manipulated by varying the width of the target and by imposing a maximum width of the movement path. Surprisingly, when vision was blocked movement accuracy was comparable in the two groups. Thus, people with tetraparetic CP do not strictly require constant vision of their moving limb to make accurate upper-limb movements. They compensated for the lack of visual information, however, by prolonging movement time. Using a high pen force proved a general strategic adaptation, possibly to filter out unwanted noise from the motor system or to enhance proprioceptive input.

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Developing Movement Efficiency Between 7 and 9 Years of Age

Ida Maria Bosga-Stork, Jurjen Bosga, and Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek

This longitudinal study examined the movement efficiency of typically developing children between 7 and 9 years of age by scrutinizing their movement amplitudes and frequencies as they settled into a loop-writing task in which both parameters were prescribed. It was hypothesized that during the first three grades at primary school children would show increasing efficiency in exploiting the inverse relationship between movement amplitude and frequency when adjusting their movement errors. Whereas a clear developmental trend showed increasing efficiency with respect to the way in which the primary school children met the amplitude constraints, a more variable pattern was found for the age-dependent adjustments to the frequency requirements. At the level of parameter-error corrections from one cycle to the next, a marginal developmental trend was observed. Results are discussed in terms of contrasting effects between educational targets and movement-efficiency principles.

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Differential Effects of the Rod-and-Frame Illusion on the Timing of Forearm Rotations

Janneke Lommertzen, Alexander M.J. van Zuijlen, Ruud G.J. Meulenbroek, and Rob van Lier

The current study focused on the time course of the effects of the rod-and-frame illusion (RFI) on the kinematics of targeted forearm rotations. Participants were asked to reproduce perceived rod orientations by propelling a hand-held cylinder forward while rotating it to the target orientation. Rod and frame orientations were systematically varied, and cylinder rotations were normalized to time. Average realized cylinder orientations confirmed that when the frame orientation deviated from the vertical, a reproduction error occurred in the direction opposite to the direction of the frame tilt. In contrast, the perceived orientation of the stimulus rod was exaggerated relative to the vertical (i.e., reproduction errors were in the direction of the rod tilt). Furthermore, linear regression analyses for every normalized time sample showed that the rod and frame effects start simultaneously, but they reach their maximum effect at different points in time. We discuss the implications of our findings for current views on the effects of visual illusions on motor control.