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  • Author: Stacey L. Gorniak x
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Aisha Khan and Stacey L. Gorniak

Previous studies of fine motor control have focused on the ability of participants to match their grip force production to a visually provided template. We investigated differences exhibited in pinch force control during variable force production templates, including sine-, sawtooth-, and square-wave templates. Our results indicate that increased force requirements are associated with increased error rates and a noisier frequency spectrum, consistent with previous studies. Our results also indicate that visual feedback, in the form of template shape, directly affect pinch force production features and motor unit firing patterns, despite the use of consistent baseline force requirements, amplitude changes, and visual signal frequency. This suggests that CNS modulation of motor unit responses can be triggered by basic changes in visual feedback unrelated to force requirements. The potential implications of error compensation based on this study due to aging are also discussed.

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Stefan Madansingh and Stacey L. Gorniak

We investigated the movement strategies of young, healthy participants (7 men/7 women) during the movement of a fragile object using nonlinear analysis. The kinematic variables of position, velocity, and acceleration were quantified using largest Lyapunov exponent (LyE) and approximate entropy (ApEn) analysis to identify the structure of their movement variability and movement predictability, respectively. Subjects performed a total of 15 discrete trials of an upper extremity movement task without crushing the object at each fragility condition, using each hand (left/right). We tested four fragility conditions hypothesizing that an increase in fragility would result in higher movement predictability and decreased temporal variability. Comparisons between the structure of movement variability and movement predictability were based on fragility condition, handedness, and kinematic measures. In this specific population, object fragility and participant handedness did not significantly impact the structure of movement variability (LyE) in the primary direction of movement (Z direction), although some effects were observed in the anterior/posterior directions. ApEn values were minimized across conditions, showing increased movement predictability, and is suggested for the analysis of discrete kinematic movements. In healthy populations, the results of this study suggest minimal effects on task performance and movement predictability as a result of object fragility.

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Beatriz H. Thames and Stacey L. Gorniak

Clinical observations suggest that type II diabetes patients are more susceptible to skin changes, which may be associated with reduced coefficient of friction at the fingertips. Reduced coefficient of friction may explain recent reports of fine motor dysfunction in diabetic patients. Coefficient of friction was evaluated using slip force evaluation in a cross-sectional cohort of diabetic patients and age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Covariates of tactile sensation, disease duration, glycated hemoglobin, and clinical diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy were also assessed. A significant decrease in fingertip coefficient of friction in the diabetic group was found as compared to controls. Health state covariates did not alter the strength of between-group differences in statistical analyses. This finding of between-group differences for fingertip frictional properties suggests that causative factors of reported manual motor dysfunction lie in both the distal and proximal portions of the nervous system.

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Stacey L. Gorniak, Marcos Duarte and Mark L. Latash

We explored possible effects of negative covariation among finger forces in multifinger accurate force production tasks on the classical Fitts’s speed-accuracy trade-off. Healthy subjects performed cyclic force changes between pairs of targets “as quickly and accurately as possible.” Tasks with two force amplitudes and six ratios of force amplitude to target size were performed by each of the four fingers of the right hand and four finger combinations. There was a close to linear relation between movement time and the log-transformed ratio of target amplitude to target size across all finger combinations. There was a close to linear relation between standard deviation of force amplitude and movement time. There were no differences between the performance of either of the two “radial” fingers (index and middle) and the multifinger tasks. The “ulnar” fingers (little and ring) showed higher indices of variability and longer movement times as compared with both “radial” fingers and multifinger combinations. We conclude that potential effects of the negative covariation and also of the task-sharing across a set of fingers are counterbalanced by an increase in individual finger force variability in multifinger tasks as compared with single-finger tasks. The results speak in favor of a feed-forward model of multifinger synergies. They corroborate a hypothesis that multifinger synergies are created not to improve overall accuracy, but to allow the system larger flexibility, for example to deal with unexpected perturbations and concomitant tasks.

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Luca Pollonini, Lauren Gulley Cox and Stacey L. Gorniak

Changes in the hemodynamic function of muscle are speculated as a causal mechanism for reduced motor capabilities with aging in Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). The focus of this study was to evaluate changes in muscle oxygenation during sustained force production in postmenopausal women with DM compared with controls. Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to monitor deoxyhemoglobin and oxyhemoglobin in the flexor digitorum superficialis. Sensorimotor function and health state covariates were also assessed. Increased deoxyhemoglobin was found during force production, whereas oxyhemoglobin remained constant. Changes were found in the time structure of the hemodynamic data during force production. No between-group differences were found; instead, measures covaried with the health state. Sex-based differences in the manifestation of DM-related sensorimotor dysfunction are likely. These data indicate that basic cardiovascular health measures may be more beneficial to monitoring hyperemic status and muscle function in postmenopausal women with DM, compared with DM diagnosis.