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Mark L. Latash

The target article presents a review of the neural control of the human hand. The review emphasizes the physical approach to motor control. It focuses on such concepts as equilibrium-point control, control with referent body configurations, uncontrolled manifold hypothesis, principle of abundance, hierarchical control, multidigit synergies, and anticipatory synergy adjustments. Changes in aspects of the hand neural control with age and neurological disorder are discussed. The target article is followed by six commentaries written by Alexander Aruin, Kelly Cole, Monica Perez, Robert Sainburg, Marco Sanello, and Wei Zhang.

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Wei Zhang, Halla B. Olafsdottir, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and Mark L. Latash

We studied the mechanical variables (the grip force and the total moment of force) and multidigit synergies at two levels (the virtual finger-thumb level, VF-TH, and the individual finger level, IMRL) of a hypothetical control hierarchy during accurate rotation of a hand-held instrumented handle. Synergies were defined as covaried changes in elemental variables (forces and moments of force) that stabilize the output at a particular level. Indices of multidigit synergies showed higher values at the hierarchically higher level (VF-TH) for both normal and tangential forces. The moment of force was stabilized at both hierarchical levels during the steady-state phases but not during the movement. The results support the principles of superposition and of mechanical advantage. They also support an earlier hypothesis on an inherent tradeoff between synergies at the two hierarchical levels, although the controller showed more subtle and versatile synergic control than the one hypothesized earlier.

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Tarkeshwar Singh, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and Mark L. Latash

The effects of muscle fatigue on the stability of precision grasps are not well known. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of exercise-induced fatigue of a digit on prehension synergies in a static precision grasp. One group of participants performed the fatiguing exercise using the thumb (group-thumb) and the second group performed the exercise using the index finger (group-index). Grasp force and load-resisting force-stabilizing synergies were weaker during fatigue for group-thumb and showed no significant change for group-index. These results indicate that fatiguing the thumb compromises the stability of the precision grasp more than when the index finger is fatigued. Our results support the idea of hierarchical organization of prehension control. We proffer an explanation of our results based on two control constructs: a) Principle of superposition. This principle states that prehension can be viewed as a superposition of two independent processes controlling the slip and the tilt of the object respectively; and b) The referent configuration hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, the neural control of actions is associated with defining a set of referent values for task-related coordinates (given an external force field) defined as the referent configuration.

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Mark L. Latash

The article offers a way to unite three recent developments in the field of motor control and coordination: (1) The notion of synergies is introduced based on the principle of motor abundance; (2) The uncontrolled manifold hypothesis is described as offering a computational framework to identify and quantify synergies; and (3) The equilibrium-point hypothesis is described for a single muscle, single joint, and multijoint systems. Merging these concepts into a single coherent scheme requires focusing on control variables rather than performance variables. The principle of minimal final action is formulated as the guiding principle within the referent configuration hypothesis. Motor actions are associated with setting two types of variables by a controller, those that ultimately define average performance patterns and those that define associated synergies. Predictions of the suggested scheme are reviewed, such as the phenomenon of anticipatory synergy adjustments, quick actions without changes in synergies, atypical synergies, and changes in synergies with practice. A few models are briefly reviewed.

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Fariba Hasanbarani and Mark L. Latash

. Neuroscience Letters, 456 ( 2 ), 80 – 84 . PubMed ID: 19429138 doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.03.084 Gorniak , S.L. , Zatsiorsky , V.M. , & Latash , M.L. ( 2007a ). Emerging and disappearing synergies in a hierarchically controlled system . Experimental Brain Research, 183 ( 2 ), 259 – 270 . doi

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Suvobrata Mitra, Polemnia G. Amazeen and Michael T. Turvey

We investigated the 1:1 frequency locking of two hand-held pendulums oscillated parallel to the body's coronal plane. In this configuration, anti-phase defined muscularly is in-phase defined spatially, and vice versa. Coordination equilibria measured by average relative phase were shifted less from muscular anti-phase than from muscular in-phase by detuning (unequal uncoupled pendulum frequencies) and were shifted less in both modes with vision than without. Variability of the equilibria, however, was ordered opposite to their degrees of shift and was unaffected by vision. Demonstrated subcritical pitchfork and tangent bifurcations conformed to the variability classification of anti- and in-phase coordination. Implications for dynamical models, hierarchical control, and definitions of coordination modes were discussed.

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Mark L. Latash

doubt (even Newton’s Laws were ultimately shown to be wrong within certain ranges of variables!). The idea of control with RCs has been naturally merged with the idea of hierarchical control (reviewed in Latash, 2010 ). According to this scheme (Figure  1 ), task-specific, low-dimensional RC ( t ) is