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Biol Cybern. 1997 Mar;76(3):163-71.

Human arm stiffness and equilibrium-point trajectory during multi-joint movement.

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Information Science Research Laboratory, NTT Basic Research Laboratories, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.


By using a newly designed high-performance manipulandum and a new estimation algorithm, we measured human multi-joint arm stiffness parameters during multi-joint point-to-point movements on a horizontal plane. This manipulandum allows us to apply a sufficient perturbation to subject's arm within a brief period during movement. Arm stiffness parameters were reliably estimated using a new algorithm, in which all unknown structural parameters could be estimated independent of arm posture (i.e., constant values under any arm posture). Arm stiffness during transverse movement was considerably greater than that during corresponding posture, but not during a longitudinal movement. Although the ratios of elbow, shoulder, and double-joint stiffness were varied in time, the orientation of stiffness ellipses during the movement did not change much. Equilibrium-point trajectories that were predicted from measured stiffness parameters and actual trajectories were slightly sinusoidally curved in Cartesian space and their velocity profiles were quite different from the velocity profiles of actual hand trajectories. This result contradicts the hypothesis that the brain does not take the dynamics into account in movement control depending on the neuromuscular servo mechanism; rather, it implies that the brain needs to acquire some internal models of controlled objects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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