Author(s): Flash T, Hogan N
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Abstract This paper presents studies of the coordination of voluntary human arm movements. A mathematical model is formulated which is shown to predict both the qualitative features and the quantitative details observed experimentally in planar, multijoint arm movements. Coordination is modeled mathematically by defining an objective function, a measure of performance for any possible movement. The unique trajectory which yields the best performance is determined using dynamic optimization theory. In the work presented here, the objective function is the square of the magnitude of jerk (rate of change of acceleration) of the hand integrated over the entire movement. This is equivalent to assuming that a major goal of motor coordination is the production of the smoothest possible movement of the hand. Experimental observations of human subjects performing voluntary unconstrained movements in a horizontal plane are presented. They confirm the following predictions of the mathematical model: unconstrained point-to-point motions are approximately straight with bell-shaped tangential velocity profiles; curved motions (through an intermediate point or around an obstacle) have portions of low curvature joined by portions of high curvature; at points of high curvature, the tangential velocity is reduced; the durations of the low-curvature portions are approximately equal. The theoretical analysis is based solely on the kinematics of movement independent of the dynamics of the musculoskeletal system and is successful only when formulated in terms of the motion of the hand in extracorporal space. The implications with respect to movement organization are discussed.
This article was published in J Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Biomechanics