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J Neurophysiol. 2003 Nov;90(5):3066-86. Epub 2003 Aug 6.

Strategies for the integration of posture and movement during reaching in the cat.

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Unité de Physiologie et Biomécanique de la Locomotion, Département d'Education Physique et de Réadaptation, Université Catholique de Louvain, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


We have examined the relationship between the movement and the anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) that precede that movement during a reaching task in the cat. We recorded ground reaction forces in all 3 planes from all 4 limbs as well as electromyographic (EMG) activity from limb and axial muscles. The reaching movement was always preceded by an APA that was characterized by a loading of the reaching forelimb and an unloading of the support forelimb. This loading of the reaching forelimb was preceded, and accompanied, by increased activity in shoulder and limb extensor muscles of the reaching limb; extensor muscle activity in the supporting limb was simultaneously decreased. An important finding from this study was that the onset of the APA and of the movement was temporally decoupled. Analyses of the onset of EMG activity showed that most of the muscles that we recorded could be classified as either related to the APA or related to the movement. These results support the idea of distributed, and perhaps independent, systems for the execution of the APA and of the prime movement. There was also postural activity in the supporting limb during the movement. Analysis of this activity, which is also anticipatory in nature, suggests that it was tightly linked to the movement. We suggest that this postural response is signaled as part of the command for movement. Some muscles, particularly the extensors of the reaching limb, received convergent input from the command signals for the APA and for the movement.

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