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Hum Mov Sci. 2009 Dec;28(6):752-9. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2009.04.005. Epub 2009 Aug 22.

Interaction interference between arm and leg: division of attention through muscle force regulation.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Tosa Rehabilitation College, 2500-2 Otsu Ohtsu, Kochi 781-5103, Japan.


The first purpose of this study was to examine whether decreases in muscle force similar to the bilateral deficit occur during simultaneous use of arm and leg. The second purpose was to examine the effect on the muscle force of one leg by a division of attention through the regulation of the muscle force in the arm. Six participants completed each of the following three tasks in a random order: (1) maximal unilateral flexion of the right or left elbow, (2) maximal unilateral extension of the left knee, and (3) multilimb effort (a maximal contraction of the muscles in the leg while maintaining a constant submaximal isometric elbow flexion force at 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% MVC). The results showed that muscle force was lower during simultaneous exertion of arm and leg than during exertion of one limb alone. The maximal knee extension force was significantly (p<.05) lower, by as much as 40% or so, during regulation at 25% MVC. The division of attention is also thought to be involved in task execution and may thus explain the test results. A decrease in the muscle force of the leg due to the level of regulation of the muscle force of the arm indicates that the regulation of the muscle force affects the division of attention, and the finer level of muscle force regulation is a task that requires greater attention. When the muscle force is precisely controlled, a more accurate and more appropriate adjustment is required to focus attention.

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