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J Comput Neurosci. 2005 Mar-Apr;18(2):131-49.

Velocity-based planning of rapid elbow movements expands the control scheme of the equilibrium point hypothesis.

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Department of Psychology, Kinjo Gakuin University, Nagoya, 463-8521, Japan.


According to the equilibrium point hypothesis of voluntary motor control, control action of muscles is not explicitly computed, but rather arises as a consequence of interaction between moving equilibrium position, current kinematics and stiffness of the joint. This approach is attractive as it obviates the need to explicitly specify the forces controlling limb movements. However, many debatable aspects of this hypothesis remain in the manner of specification of the equilibrium point trajectory and muscle activation (or its stiffness), which elicits a restoring force toward the planned equilibrium trajectory. In this study, we expanded the framework of this hypothesis by assuming that the control system uses the velocity measure as the origin of subordinate variables scaling descending commands. The velocity command is translated into muscle control inputs by second order pattern generators, which yield reciprocal command and coactivation commands, and create alternating activation of the antagonistic muscles during movement and coactivation in the post-movement phase, respectively. The velocity command is also integrated to give a position command specifying a moving equilibrium point. This model is purely kinematics-dependent, since the descending commands needed to modulate the visco-elasticity of muscles are implicitly given by simple parametric specifications of the velocity command alone. The simulated movements of fast elbow single-joint movements corresponded well with measured data performed over a wide range of movement distances, in terms of both muscle excitations and kinematics. Our proposal on a synthesis for the equilibrium point approach and velocity command, may offer some insights into the control scheme of the single-joint arm movements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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