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Steven Morrison and J. Greg Anson

Triphasic electromyographic (EMG) patterns have been described as characteristic of rapid, discrete, uniplanar, goal-directed movements. This experiment examined the effects of Response Type (experimenter- vs. subject-determined), Hand (preferred vs. nonpreferred), and Practice (early vs. late) on performance accuracy, and specific temporal EMG and kinematic measures during a dart throw. EMG was recorded from triceps (main agonist), brachioradialis, and biceps (main antagonist). The number of trials in which a triphasic EMG occurred varied systematically across conditions. The experimenter-determined, early practice condition resulted in greatest frequency (92%) of trials displaying a triphasic EMG and least accurate performance. In contrast, the lowest frequency (79%) of triphasic EMG and most accurate performance occurred in the subject-determined, late practice condition. The association among 14 temporal EMG, and kinematic measures for each trial of the dart throw was analyzed with multivariate factorial ANOVA. Four clusters of variables emerged: initial phase, braking phase, terminal phase, and movement speed and duration. Variables contributing to the initial-phase cluster were most strongly associated within the experimenter-determined, early practice condition, and the strength of association was directly related to diminished performance accuracy. Paradoxically, best performance accuracy (subject-determined, late practice) was identified with a weaker association among variables representing the initial phase.

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Steven Morrison and Karl M. Newell

The relation between limb stiffness and postural tremor in the upper arm was investigated during a pointing task. The task goal was to minimize the amount of motion (tremor) at the index finger under levels of increasing limb stiffness. This study investigated the influence of increasing limb stiffness on the pattern of intra- and interlimb dynamics. The frequency profile of the tremor for all limb segments across all conditions displayed two peaks, one between 2-4 Hz and another between 8-12 Hz. A third, higher frequency component (20-22 Hz) was present in the index finger. Increasing limb stiffness through voluntary co-contraction of antagonistic muscle pairs effectively constrained the segments of the upper limb to increasingly operate as a single biomechanical degree of freedom. Higher levels of limb stiffness typically led to an increase in the frequency and power of the 2-4 and 8-12 Hz peaks. There was also a decrease in the frequency of the 20-22 Hz component of finger tremor. The act of reducing the effective degrees of freedom in joint space through voluntarily stiffening of the upper limbs also resulted in decreased performance as determined by an increase in finger tremor. In the preferred, natural level of limb stiffness, specific intralimb segment relations were observed but there was no significant interlimb coupling. The intralimb segment correlations were characterized by compensatory (out of phase) coupling between the upper arm/forearm and hand/index finger segment pairs of each limb that were organized about the action of the wrist joint. Increasing the degree of limb stiffness led to a decrease in the level of intralimb coupling. The findings suggest that the most efficient mechanism for reducing tremor at the periphery is that of compensatory coupling between relevant intralimb segments with a low level of limb stiffness.

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Karl M. Newell and Steven Morrison

This paper presents a framework for an evolving dynamical landscape of movement forms and their stability over the lifespan. It is proposed that the complexity and dimensionality of movement forms can expand and contract on a number of growth/decay time scales of change including those of adaptation, development, and learning. The expansion and contraction is reflected in: (1) the range of potential movement forms of the individual in developmental time; and (2) the dimensionality and complexity of any single movement form at a moment of observation given the confluence of individual, environmental, and task constraints. It is postulated that practice, exercise, and fatigue also coalesce to change the time scales of complexity and dimension of movement forms.