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School of Medicine




Human reaching movements require complex muscle activations to produce the forces necessary to move the limb in a controlled manner. How gravity and the complex kinetic properties of the limb contribute to the generation of the muscle activation pattern by the central nervous system (CNS) is a long-standing and controversial question in neuroscience. To tackle this issue, muscle activity is often subdivided into static and phasic components. The former corresponds to posture maintenance and transitions between postures. The latter corresponds to active movement production and the compensation for the kinetic properties of the limb. In the present study, we improved the methodology for this subdivision of muscle activity into static and phasic components by relating them to joint torques. Ten healthy subjects pointed in virtual reality to visual targets arranged to create a standard center-out reaching task in three dimensions. Muscle activity and motion capture data were synchronously collected during the movements. The motion capture data were used to calculate postural and dynamic components of active muscle torques using a dynamic model of the arm with 5 degrees of freedom. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was then applied to muscle activity and the torque components, separately, to reduce the dimensionality of the data. Muscle activity was also reconstructed from gravitational and dynamic torque components. Results show that the postural and dynamic components of muscle torque represent a significant amount of variance in muscle activity. This method could be used to define static and phasic components of muscle activity using muscle torques.

Source Citation

Olesh EV, Pollard BS and Gritsenko V (2017) Gravitational and Dynamic Components of Muscle Torque Underlie Tonic and Phasic Muscle Activity during Goal-Directed Reaching. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 11:474. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00474



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