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John H. Challis

Repeat measurements were made by 2 operators on a group of 50 physically active subjects (age, 20.7 years ± 1.8; males: height 1.780 m ± 0.043. mass, 78.09 kg ± 9.30; females: height. 1.680 m ± 0.064. mass. 66.67 kg ± 6.67) to determine the precision with which the subjects' limb segment inertial parameters could be estimated. Segmental inertial parameters were determined using 3 techniques. 2 of which involved modeling segments as geometric solids, and a 3rd which used the equations of Zatsiorsky et al. (1990). Precisions were high for all 3 techniques, with little difference between inter- and intra-operator precisions. The lowest precisions were obtained for the hands and feet. For these segments the use of repeat measures to improve precision is recommended. These results imply that with similarly trained measurers, comparison of inertial parameters determined using the same protocol but obtained by different operators is appropriate, and that it is viable to have 2 measurers taking measurements on the same subject to accelerate data collection.

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John J. Jeka, Pedro Ribeiro, Kelvin Oie and James R. Lackner

The goal of the present study was to determine the properties of the somatosensory stimulus that alter its temporal coupling to body sway. Six standing subjects were tested while touching a metal plate positioned either directly in front of or lateral to the subject. In each condition, the plate moved 4 mm at 0.2 Hz in either the medial-lateral (ML) or anterior-posterior direction (AP). The results showed that coupling between body sway and touch plate movement was strongest when the touch plate moved in a direction along the longitudinal axis of the arm. Coupling strength was weaker when the touch plate moved perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the arm. The results consistently show that a radial expansion stimulus was more effective than a lamellar-type stimulus at the fingertip. Moreover, somatosensory information from a surface is interpreted in terms of the orientation of the contact limb and the potential degrees of freedom available through its movement.

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Douglas Potter and Denis Keeling

The effects of exercise and circadian rhythms on memory function were explored in a group of shift workers (mean age 32 yrs). A variant of the Auditory-Verbal Learning Test was used to test memory for word lists at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30, 3:30, and 6:30 p.m. in a repeated-measures design. Without exercise there was clear evidence of a circadian rhythm in memory performance, with peak performance occurring at 12:30 and poorest performance at 3:30. A brisk 10-min walk followed by a 15- to 30-min recovery period resulted in significant improvement in memory recall at all time periods except 12:30. The results of the AVLT task suggest an improvement in both working memory and long-term memory performance. Rhythmic changes in serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine levels all affect cortical arousal and cognitive function. Exercise may have resulted in altered levels of these neurotransmitters, increased glucose, oxygen, or nutrient levels, or from temporary changes in growth hormone or brain-derived neurotropic factor levels resulting in increased synaptogenesis and neurogenesis. The physiological basis of this temporary improvement in memory remains to be determined, but this simple behavioral intervention may have widespread application in improving memory function in all sections of the population including children and the elderly.

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Jae Kun Shim, Jeffrey Hsu, Sohit Karol and Ben F. Hurley

The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of finger strength training (ST) on finger strength, independence, force control, and adaptations in multifinger coordination. Thirty-three healthy, young (23.0 ± 2.9 years) subjects were randomly assigned into 4 groups. Group 1 (G1) trained all fingers together, Group 2 (G2) trained individual fingers without restricting movements of the non-training fingers, and Group 3 (G3) trained individual fingers while restricting the movement of the nontraining fingers. The control group (G0) did not undergo any training. A vertically hanging load was attached to a spring that passed through a pulley. The other end of the string extended to the horizontal plane and had thimbles attached to it. Subjects were asked to rest their forearm on the table and lift the load by inserting their fingers into the thimbles. The training protocol lasted 6 weeks. Identical experimental tests were conducted 4 times, biweekly, across the 6-week training. Force coordination and moment coordination, defined as synergies stabilizing the resultant force and the resultant moment of all finger forces, in a multifinger pressing task were quantified using the Uncontrolled Manifold (UCM) analysis. The UCM analysis allocates motor variability into two components, one in the null space of a motor task and the other perpendicular to the null space. During multifinger pressing tasks, multifinger coordination exists when the variability in the null space is greater than the variability in the subspace perpendicular to the null space. The multifinger coordination was quantified as the difference between the variance within the null space and that perpendicular to the null space, normalized by the total variance. Thus, the coordination measure in our analysis is a unitless variable. A greater coordination measure indicates better multifinger coordination. Moment-stabilizing multifinger coordination increased only in G1 (from 1.197 ± 0.004 to 1.323 ± 0.002, p < .01), and force-stabilizing coordination increased only in G3 (from 0.207 ± 0.106 to 0.727 ± 0.071, p < .01). Finger strength, measured by the maximal voluntary finger force of pressing 4 fingers, increased significantly in all training groups (from 103.7 ± 3.1 N to 144.0 ± 3.6 N for training groups, all p < .001). Finger-force errors, quantified by the deviations between the required force profiles (20% maximal voluntary force) presented to the subjects and the actual force produced, decreased significantly with ST for all the training groups (all p < .05). Finger independence also decreased significantly for all the training groups (p < .05). We conclude that the neuromuscular system adaptations to multifinger ST are specific to the training protocol being employed, yielding improvements in different types of multifinger coordination (i.e., coordination-specific ST), finger-force control, and finger strength and a decrease in finger independence. Finger independence, depending on the nature of the task, might or might not be favorable to certain task performances. We suggest that ST protocol should be carefully designed for the improvement of specific coordination of multieffector motor systems.

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Dragan M. Mirkov, Sladjan Milanovic, Dusko B. Ilie and Slobodan Jaric

The hypothesis that strength of active muscles affects the symmetry of the velocity profiles of voluntary movements was tested. In particular, it was assumed that the duration of acceleration and deceleration phases reflects the ability of the antagonistic muscles to exert torque in such a way that stronger muscle requires less time for action. Twelve subjects performed consecutive 50° flexions and extensions in blocks of either discrete or oscillatory movements. They were tested under high and moderate speed conditions, as well as within different ranges of elbow joint angles. The symmetry ratio (SR; acceleration lime divided by deceleration time) was calculated in order to assess movement symmetry. The results demonstrated SR > 1 under most of the discrete and, particularly, oscillatory movement conditions. A velocity-associated increase in SR was recorded, while different ranges of elbow movements, assumed to provide different torques of the agonist and antagonist muscles, also provided different SR. The findings were generally in line with the predicted effects of movement conditions on muscle strength, particularly those related to elbow angle and elbow angular velocity. Deviations from me ideal movement symmetricity have usually been interpreted as either weakness of various motor control models and hypotheses, or as a sub-optimal control of movements in certain subject populations; the present study suggests an alternative interpretation based upon the ability of active muscles to exert torque.

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Sara B. Giordano, Richard L. Segal and Thomas A. Abelew

The purpose of this study was to investigate the end-point force trajectories of the fibularis longus (FIB), lateral gastrocnemius (LG), and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles. Most information about individual muscle function has come from studies that use models based on electromyographic (EMG) recordings. In this study (N = 20 subjects) we used electrical stimulation (20 Hz) to elicit activity in individual muscles, recorded the end-point forces at the foot, and verified the selectivity of stimulation by using magnetic resonance imaging. Unexpectedly, no significant differences were found between LG and MG force directions. Stimulation of LG and MG resulted in downward and medial or lateral forces depending on the subject. We found FIB end-point forces to be significantly different from those of LG and MG. In all subjects, stimulation of FIB resulted in downward and lateral forces. Based on our results, we suggest that there are multiple factors determining when and whether LG or MG will produce a medial or lateral force and FIB consistently plays a significant role in eversion/abduction and plantar flexion. We suggest that the intersubject variability we found is not simply an artifact of experimental or technical error but is functionally relevant and should be addressed in future studies and models.

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Crayton L. Moss and Scott Grimmer

The purpose of this study was to determine whether twitch contractile properties and strength of the triceps surae could be altered by 8 weeks of low-repetition or high-repetition isotonic exercise. Subjects were randomly assigned to either the low- or high-repetition group. Before- and after-training measurements were recorded for strength and contractile properties. The contractile variables of the muscle twitch were latency, time to peak force, peak force, half-contraction time, and half-relaxation time. Strength measurements were determined utilizing a one repetition maximal (1-RM) heel-raise testing device. A two-way ANOVA with repeated measures was used to test the effect of training on each variable. Both groups showed a significant increase in 1-RM and half-relaxation time and a decrease in electrical stimulation current after the 8-week training period. It was concluded that if high-repetition exercises develop slow-twitch Type I muscle fibers and low-repetition exercises develop fast-twitch Type II fibers, training programs must be designed specifically according to the desired outcome.