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Biol Cybern. 2005 Jul;93(1):6-21. Epub 2005 May 30.

Dynamics of multifrequency coordination using parametric driving: theory and experiment.

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Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA.


The coupling of movement behavior and environmental signals has been extensively studied within the domain of rhythmic coordination tasks. However, in contrast to most traditional coordination studies, here we drive the coupled sensorimotor system far beyond the frequency regime in which these signals may be synchronized. Our goal is to identify the properties of the coupling between the human subject and the environment. Earlier studies have shown that the environmental signal may be parametrically coupled to the effectors. A necessary feature of parametrically driven oscillators is the existence of stable 1:1 and 1:2 coordination modes. Here, we test this prediction experimentally using a coordination paradigm in which subjects were asked to coincide peak finger flexion with an auditory metronome beat. The rate of the metronome was increased in steps of 0.5 Hz from 2.5 Hz to 12 Hz. It was observed that the subjects shifted involuntarily from a 1:1 to a 1:2 coordination mode at high driving frequencies, as predicted. These results are examined in the context of an extended form of the Haken-Kelso-Bunz (Haken et al. 1985) model (HKB) for bimanual coordination, which includes a parametric driving term (Jirsa et al. 2000). Unimanual coordination is treated as a special case of this extended model. An important feature of the HKB model is bistability and the presence of a phase transition from an anti-phase mode to in-phase mode of coordination. Our description of unimanual coordination leads to a mechanism for phase transitions that is distinct from that seen in the HKB model. The transition is mediated by the dynamics of both the amplitude and the phase of the oscillator. More generally, we propose the existence of two types of transitions in our extended theory, that is, phase-mediated and amplitude-mediated transitions. Both have characteristic features; in particular, their transients are mutually orthogonal in the plane spanned by the amplitude and phase of the oscillator. The analytical and numerical results of our theoretical model are demonstrated to compare favorably with our experimental results.

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