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J Physiol. 1984 Aug;353:265-85.

Resonance at the wrist demonstrated by the use of a torque motor: an instrumental analysis of muscle tone in man.


The resonance of the relaxed wrist for flexion-extension movements in the horizontal plane has been investigated by using rhythmic torques generated by a printed motor. In the normal subject the resonant frequency of the wrist is ca. 2 Hz unless the torque is reduced below a certain critical value when the system is no longer linear and the resonant frequency rises. This critical torque level, and the damping are both less in women than men. The resonant frequency is uninfluenced by surgical anaesthesia. With added bias the increase of resonant frequency at low torques still occurs although the hand is now oscillating about a displaced mean position. It follows that the stiffening implied by this elevation of resonant frequency for small movements is neither the result of pre-stressing of the muscles nor of reflex activity. With velocity feed-back of appropriate polarity the system will oscillate spontaneously at its resonant frequency. If the peak driving torque is progressively reduced the resonant frequency increases abruptly, indicating that the system has stiffened. Perturbations delivered to the wrist may reduce its stiffness. The postural system is thixotropic with a 'memory time' of 1-2 s. The resonant frequency is elevated in voluntary stiffening.

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