The effects of viscous loading of the human forearm flexors on the stability of coordination.


This experiment investigated whether the stability of rhythmic unimanual movements is primarily a function of perceptual/spatial orientation or neuro-mechanical in nature. Eight participants performed rhythmic flexion and extension movements of the left wrist for 30s at a frequency of 2.25 Hz paced by an auditory metronome. Each participant performed 8 flex-on-the-beat trials and 8 extend-on-the-beat trials in one of two load conditions, loaded and unload. In the loaded condition, a servo-controlled torque motor was used to apply a small viscous load that resisted the flexion phase of the movement only. Both the amplitude and frequency of the movement generated in the loaded and unloaded conditions were statistically equivalent. However, in the loaded condition movements in which participants were required to flex-on-the-beat became less stable (more variable) while extend-on-the-beat movements remained unchanged compared with the unload condition. The small alteration in required muscle force was sufficient to result in reliable changes in movement stability even a situation where the movement kinematics were identical. These findings support the notion that muscular constraints, independent of spatial dependencies, can be sufficiently strong to reliably influence coordination in a simple unimanual task.

Cite this paper

@article{Riek2004TheEO, title={The effects of viscous loading of the human forearm flexors on the stability of coordination.}, author={Stephan Riek}, journal={Human movement science}, year={2004}, volume={23 3-4}, pages={431-45} }