Physical Demand but Not Dexterity Is Associated with Motor Flexibility during Rapid Reaching in Healthy Young Adults

Christian Greve*, Tibor Hortobagyi, Raoul M. Bongers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
328 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Healthy humans are able to place light and heavy objects in small and large target locations with remarkable accuracy. Here we examine how dexterity demand and physical demand affect flexibility in joint coordination and end-effector kinematics when healthy young adults perform an upper extremity reaching task. We manipulated dexterity demand by changing target size and physical demand by increasing external resistance to reaching. Uncontrolled manifold analysis was used to decompose variability in joint coordination patterns into variability stabilizing the end-effector and variability de-stabilizing the end-effector during reaching. Our results demonstrate a proportional increase in stabilizing and de-stabilizing variability without a change in the ratio of the two variability components as physical demands increase. We interpret this finding in the context of previous studies showing that sensorimotor noise increases with increasing physical demands. We propose that the larger de-stabilizing variability as a function of physical demand originated from larger sensorimotor noise in the neuromuscular system. The larger stabilizing variability with larger physical demands is a strategy employed by the neuromuscular system to counter the de-stabilizing variability so that performance stability is maintained. Our findings have practical implications for improving the effectiveness of movement therapy in a wide range of patient groups, maintaining upper extremity function in old adults, and for maximizing athletic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0127017
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13-May-2015

Keywords

  • EQUILIBRIUM-POINT HYPOTHESIS
  • JOINT ANGLE VARIABILITY
  • ARM MOVEMENT
  • SENSORIMOTOR CONTROL
  • NERVOUS-SYSTEM
  • TARGET SIZE
  • CHAIR-RISE
  • COCONTRACTION
  • STRATEGIES
  • ACCURACY

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