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Jin H. Yan

Empirical evidence from this study supports the hypothesis that Tai Chi practice can improve senior citizens’ dynamic balance control and rapid-aiming arm movement performance. Of 38 senior citizens, 28 (M = 78.8 years. SD = 2.1) chose to practice the 24-form simplified Tai Chi. The remaining 10 seniors (M = 79.2 years. SD = 1.9) selected a locomotor activity (walking or jogging). Dynamic balance tests and ballistic-aiming arm movements were conducted for all participants at the beginning, middle (4th week), and end of the 8-week exercise program. The Tai Chi participants improved their time on balance more than did their counterparts who performed locomotor activities. In addition, Tai Chi practice improved arm movement smoothness to a greater extent than the locomotor activities. However, no changes in arm movement speed were observed in either group. The results suggest that Tai Chi practice may help senior citizens improve dynamic balance control and gain smoothness in rapid-aiming arm movements.

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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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Tom G. Welter and Maarten F. Bobbert

It has been shown in previous research that the initial phase of EMG for a punching movement remained almost unchanged regardless of whether an external force was applied to the arm. The purpose of the present study was to explain this finding with the help of simulations. A two-dimensional model of me arm actuated by 6 Hill-type muscles was used to simulate a punching movement in the horizontal plane from a prescribed starting position with 90° elbow flexion. Input to the model was the stimulation of me muscles, and output were, among others, muscle forces and segmental accelerations. A genetic algorithm was used to determine the muscle onset times mat minimized movement duration and targeting error. In a subsequent forward simulation, the optimized muscle onset times for an unloaded punching movement were superimposed on the isometric stimulation necessary to hold me arm in the starting position while an external force was applied to the arm. The resulting movement was only slightly different from the unloaded movement. It appeared that because of the low level of isometric muscle force prior to the movement, and the high level of stimulation during the movement, muscle force was increased at a rate mat was almost independent of the prior force level. These results confirmed the suggestion that the initial phase of EMG in ballistic movements is more related to the rate of change of force than to the absolute force level. It is hypothesized mat this may simplify the task of the nervous system in the choice of initial muscle activity in ballistic arm movements because no adjustments to varying external forces are required.

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Natalia V. Dounskaia, Caroline J. Ketcham and George E. Stelmach

Influence of mechanical interactions between the shoulder and elbow on production of different coordination patterns during horizontal arm movements is investigated in the present study. Subjects performed cyclical movements along a circle and along lines of 4 different orientations. Cycling frequency was manipulated to highlight control features responsible for interactive torque regulation. When the shoulder was involved in motion, torque analysis revealed that this joint was controlled similarly during all movement types. At the elbow, however, each movement type required a specific pattern of regulation of interactive torque with muscle torque. When interactive torque acted in the direction of the required elbow rotation, the demands for active control were lower than when the interactive torque resisted elbow motion and had to be actively suppressed. Kinematic analysis demonstrated that increases in cycling frequency systematically deformed the fingertip path. The amount of these deformations differed across movement types, being more pronounced for movements where the interactive torque resisted joint motion. It appears that interactive torque can assist or resist movement at the joints, making control of some movement types more difficult than others.

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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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Tobias Kalenscher, Karl-Theodor Kalveram and Jürgen Konczak

This study investigated force adaptation in humans during goal-directed flexion forearm motion. The ability of the motor system to adapt to changes in internal or external forces is essential for the successful control of voluntary movement. In a first experiment, we examined how under- or overdamping differentially affected the length of the adaptation and the arm kinematics between force transitions. We found that transitions diverging from a null-force produced larger transition effects than transitions converging to a null force condition, indicating that re-adaptation was less error-prone. Whether the subjects had previously experienced underdamping or the null-force had no significant impact on the spatial trajectory after switching to overdamping. That is, prior force experience had no differential effect on the spatial transition kinematics. However, the transitions underdamping-to-overdamping and underdamping-to–null force did produce differently strong transition effects. These results indicate that exposure to the new force rather than previous force-field experience is responsible for transition- and after-effects. In a second experiment, we investigated whether learning was law-like—that is, whether it generalized to unvisited workspace. Subjects were tested in new, unvisited workspaces in the null-force condition after sufficient training in either force condition. The occurrence of transferred after-effects indicated that adaptation to both positive and negative damping was mediated by rule-based rather than exclusive associative processes.

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Jeroen B.J. Smeets and Eli Brenner

Reaching out for an object is often described as consisting of two components that are based on different visual information. Information about the object's position and orientation guides the hand to the object, while information about the object's shape and size determines how the fingers move relative to the thumb to grasp it. We propose an alternative description, which consists of determining suitable positions on the object—on the basis of its shape, surface roughness, and so on—and then moving one's thumb and fingers more or less independently to these positions. We modeled this description using a minimum-jerk approach, whereby the finger and thumb approach their respective target positions approximately orthogonally to the surface. Our model predicts how experimental variables such as object size, movement speed, fragility, and required accuracy will influence the timing and size of the maximum aperture of the hand. An extensive review of experimental studies on grasping showed that the predicted influences correspond to human behavior.

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Jeroen B.J. Smeets and Eli Brenner

We agree with Robertson that our new view on grasping is a description of motor behavior rather than an exploration into the nature of the neural processing underlying this behavior. However, neurophysiologists might be inspired by our new view to ask other questions, perform other experiments, and analyze these differently. In this way, they could generate new insights about the neural control of grasping.

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Denise M. Rossi, Renan A. Resende, Gisele H. Hotta, Sérgio T. da Fonseca and Anamaria S. de Oliveira

performed according to previous studies investigating kinematic time series during gait 34 – 36 and arm elevation. 26 Principal component analysis was performed on 9 kinematic variables for the 2-arm movement phases (elevation and lowering) arranged in 18 separate data matrices (97 subjects × 101 time

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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.