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J Neurosci. 1987 Mar;7(3):819-28.

Changes in spatial scale in drawing and handwriting: kinematic contributions by proximal and distal joints.


The coordination of arm and hand motions was studied in tasks involving drawing and handwriting movements of different amplitudes. To this end, pen motion was recorded by means of a digitizing table, while the positions of different markers on the limb were monitored by the ELITE system. It was found that the amplitude of shoulder and elbow angular motions scales roughly with the size of the figure drawn or of the script, whereas the amplitude of wrist and finger motions is small, independent of size. Consequently, the larger the limb movement, the smaller the magnitude of the contributions by motions at distal joints relative to that at proximal joints. Furthermore, while shoulder and elbow motions are tightly coupled (constant phase relation), motions at distal joints are loosely coupled to those at the proximal joints (variable phase relation). On the other hand, motion at distal joints increases the accuracy of the movement, as indicated by the smaller variability of pen trajectories compared to that of wrist trajectories.

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