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The origin and use of positional frames of reference in motor control

  • Anatol G. Feldman (a1) and Mindy F. Levin (a2)
Abstract

A hypothesis about sensorimotor integration (the λ model) is described and applied to movement control and kinesthesia. The central idea is that the nervous system organizes positional frames of reference for the sensorimotor apparatus and produces active movements by shifting the frames in terms of spatial coordinates. Kinematic and electromyographic patterns are not programmed, but emerge from the dynamic interaction among the system s components, including external forces within the designated frame of reference. Motoneuronal threshold properties and proprioceptive inputs to motoneurons may be cardinal components of the physiological mechanism that produces positional frames of reference. The hypothesis that intentional movements are produced by shifting the frame of reference is extended to multi-muscle and multi-degrees-of-freedom systems with a solution of the redundancy problem that allows the control of a joint alone or in combination with other joints to produce any desired limb configuration and movement trajectory. The model also implies that for each motor behavior, the nervous system uses a strategy that minimizes the number of changeable control variables and keeps the parameters of these changes invariant. Examples are provided of simulated kinematic and electromyographic signals from single- and multi-joint arm movements produced by suggested patterns of control variables. Empirical support is provided and additional tests of the model are suggested. The model is contrasted with others based on the ideas of programming of motoneuronal activity, muscle forces, stiffness, or movement kinematics.

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