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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24229. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024229. Epub 2011 Sep 2.

The CNS stochastically selects motor plan utilizing extrinsic and intrinsic representations.

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Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, South Kensington Campus, London, United Kingdom.


Traditionally motor studies have assumed that motor tasks are executed according to a single plan characterized by regular patterns, which corresponds to the minimum of a cost function in extrinsic or intrinsic coordinates. However, the novel via-point task examined in this paper shows distinct planning and execution stages in motion production and demonstrates that subjects randomly select from several available motor plans to perform a task. Examination of the effect of pre-training and via-point orientation on subject behavior reveals that the selection of a plan depends on previous movements and is affected by constraints both intrinsic and extrinsic of the body. These results provide new insights into the hierarchical structure of motion planning in humans, which can only be explained if the current models of motor control integrate an explicit plan selection stage.

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