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Veena Iyengar, Marcio J. Santos and Alexander S. Aruin

We investigated whether slower velocity of arm movement affects grip-force generation in conditions with the finger touch provided to the wrist of the target arm. Nine subjects performed the task of lifting and transporting an object at slow, intermediate, and fast velocities with a light finger touch from the contralateral arm and without it. There was an effect of velocity of arm movement on grip-force generation in both conditions. However, when the no touch and touch trials performed with similar velocity were matched, the effect of touch on grip-force reduction was statistically significant (p < .001). The observed decrease in grip force could not be explained by slower movement execution in the touch conditions and underlines the importance of using a contralateral touch in the performance of activities of daily living. It also points to a possibility of the development of therapeutic advances for the enhancement of grip-force control in patients with neurological impairments.

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Gavin P. Lawrence, Michael A. Khan, Stuart Mourton and Pierre-Michel Bernier

The objective of the current study was to determine whether the reliance on visual feedback that develops with practice is to due utilizing vision to adjust trajectories during movement execution (i.e., online) and/or to enhance the programming of subsequent trials (i.e., offline). Participants performed a directional aiming task with either vision during the movement, dynamic feedback of the trajectory of the movement or the movement endpoint. The full vision condition was more accurate during practice than the other feedback conditions but suffered a greater decrement in performance when feedback was removed. In addition, the reliance on trajectory feedback was greater compared with the endpoint feedback. It appears that the reliance on visual feedback that develops with practice was due to both online and offline processing.

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Zong-Ming Li

Mechanical degrees of freedom (DOF) are defined as the minimum number of independent coordinates needed to describe a system’s position. The human musculoskeletal system has many mechanical DOF through which countless movements are accomplished. In the motor control field, one of the aspirations is to understand how the many DOF are organized for movement execution—the so-called DOF problem. Natural movements are characterized by the coordination of the DOF such that few vary independently. The concept of functional degrees of freedom (fDOF) is introduced to describe the very limited DOF of purposeful, coordinated movements. Deterministic (i.e., constraint satisfaction) and statistical (i.e., principal component analysis) approaches are used to determine fDOF. In contrast to DOF as a mechanical descriptor, fDOF emphasizes the mechanisms of human movements and corroborates our search for the solution to the DOF problem.

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Robert R.A. van Doorn and Pieter J.A. Unema

The present study showed that movement execution depends on the direct visual environment. We replicated findings of an earlier study that showed a difference between real time information via a trace of the unfolding trajectory, and cursor feedback constituting real time information about the changing movement location. Detailed analyses involving subdividing a movement into four successive sections revealed that movements governed by trace feedback were typically slower and required more feedback guidance near the occurrence of peak velocity. The present study further showed that movement behavior under the two visual modes diverged even more due to the presence of a static object positioned within the action area of the movement. Movements in the trace feedback condition were affected by the presence of an object in the second half of the movement trajectory when the movement reached peak deceleration. Discussion focuses on the differences between the two modes of online visual information.

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Melanie Krüger, Thomas Eggert and Andreas Straube

Empirical evidence suggests that the ability to stabilize important task variables of everyday movements by synergistically coordinating redundant degrees of freedom decreases with aging. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether this decrease may be regarded as a characteristic that also applies for the control of multiple task variables. We asked younger and older subjects to repeatedly reach towards and grasp a handle, while joint angle movement of the arm was recorded. The handle constrained final hand position and final hand orientation. Movement variability was analyzed during movement execution by using the uncontrolled manifold method. Results showed that hand orientation was less stabilized in younger than in older subjects. We conclude that aging changes the stability of important task variables. These changes may lead to decreased stability in some task variables, as reported in the literature, but also to increased stability in other task variables.

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Jin H. Yan, Richard N. Hinrichs, V. Gregory Payne and Jerry R. Thomas

This study was designed to examine Ihe developmental differences in the speed and smoothness of arm movement during overarm throwing. The second purpose of this investigation was to evaluate whether jerk is a useful measure in understanding children's overarm throwing. Fifty-one girls, aged 3 to 6 years, voluntarily participated in the study. Each subject threw tennis balls as hard as she could toward a large target on the wall. A 2-camera video system was used to obtain 3-D coordinates of the hand and ball using the DLT algorithm. The variables of velocity and jerk (for the hand and ball) served as the movement outcome measures. The age-associated differences in velocity and normalized jerk (absolute jerk standardized relative to movement time and distance) were examined by ANOVAs. The results supported the hypothesis that the older subjects demonstrated faster and smoother hand movements than their younger counterparts during the forward acceleration phase (from the beginning of forward motion to ball release). In addition, the correlation results indicated thai increased hand movement speed was associated with decreased movement jerk in older subjects, whereas increased hand speed was associated with increased jerk in younger subjects. The findings suggest that examining the jerk parameter (normalized or absolute jerk) is a useful and alternative approach to capture the variance of hand movement execution for children's overarm throwing.

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Michael A. Khan, Gavin P. Lawrence, Ian M. Franks and Digby Elliott

The purpose of the present study was to establish the contribution of visual feedback in the correction of errors during movement execution (i.e., online) and the utilization of visual feedback from a completed movement in the programming of upcoming trials (i.e., offline). Participants performed 2 dimensional sweeping movements on a digitizing tablet through 1 of 3 targets, which were represented on a video monitor. The movements were performed with and without visual feedback under 4 criterion movement times (150, 250, 350, 450 msec). We analyzed the variability in directional error at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the distance between the home position and the target. There were significant differences in variability between visual conditions at each movement time. However, in the 150-msec condition, the form of the variability profiles did not differ between visual conditions, suggesting that the contribution of visual feedback was due to offline processes. In the 250-, 350-, and 450-msec conditions, there was evidence for both online and offline control, as the form of the variability profiles differed between the vision and no vision conditions.

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Nicolas Termoz, Luc Martin and François Prince

The aim of this study was to assess postural response efficiency to a self-initiated perturbation using an original method based on the inverted pendulum model. Eight young subjects were asked to perform bilateral arm raising and lowering at 3 different speeds while standing on a force plate. The time necessary to recover a steady state following the movement was computed by analyzing the time evolution of the coefficient of determination between the center of pressure and center of mass difference variable (COP-COM) and the horizontal acceleration of the COM. Results show a spatial reorganization (hip strategy) of the segments following the perturbation and a strong influence of the linear relationship to the arm velocity. However, the conditions of arm velocity did not have any effect on the time response of the postural control, suggesting that this parameter would be an invariant characteristic of the movement. These results support the existence of an internal representation of the inertial constraints related to the movement execution.

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Matthew Heath, Kristina Neely and Olav Krigolson

The authors manipulated the availability of monocular and binocular vision during the constituent planning and control stages of a goal-directed reaching task. Furthermore, trials were completed with or without online limb vision to determine whether monocular- or binocular-derived ego-motion cues influence the integration of visual feedback for online limb corrections. Results showed that the manipulation of visual cues during movement planning did not influence planning times or overall kinematics. During movement execution, however, binocular reaches—and particularly those completed with online limb vision—demonstrated heightened endpoint accuracy and stability, a finding directly linked to the adoption of a feedback-based mode of reaching control (i.e., online control). In contrast, reaches performed with online monocular vision produced increased endpoint error and instability and demonstrated reduced evidence of feedback-based corrections (i.e., offline control). Based on these results, the authors propose that the combination of static (i.e., target location) and dynamic (i.e., the moving limb) binocular cues serve to specifically optimize online reaching control. Moreover, results provide new evidence that differences in the kinematic and endpoint parameters of binocular and monocular reaches reflect differences in the extent to which the aforementioned engage in online and offline modes of movement control.

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K. Brownell, T. Rolheiser, M. Heath and G. Binsted

The authors examined if previously reported anatomical asymmetries between the upper (uVF) and lower visual fields (lVF) influence the preparation and control of visually and memory-guided reaching movements. To manipulate visual field, participants maintained their visual gaze on a cue position presented above or below the location of a target object, thus resulting in reaches completed in respective uVF and lVF of peripersonal. In Experiment 1, participants performed reaches to four targets with indices of difficulty ranging from 3.1 to 5.1 bits under five visualmemory conditions: full vision and memory-guided conditions entailing 0, 2, 5, and 10 s of delay. In Experiment 2, participants reached to the vertex of Müller-Lyer figures in 3 visual-memory conditions: full vision, and memory-guided conditions entailing 0, and 2 s of delay. In accord with duplex theories of vision (e.g., Milner & Goodale, 1992), it was hypothesized that the introduction of a visual delay and/or the introduction of context-dependent illusory structure would differentially bias the efficiency and effectiveness of uVF and lVF reaches. Although data displayed mixed supported for the existence of an lVF advantage for movement execution, neither the introduction of delay nor contextual illusions succeeded in differentiating visual fields. Thus, performance advantages for movements made in the lower visual field do not appear associated with preferential connections to parietal (i.e., dorsal-action) and temporal (i.e., ventral-perception) architectures.