Intermittency of slow arm movements increases in distal direction

TitleIntermittency of slow arm movements increases in distal direction
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2009
AuthorsCelik, O, Gu, Q, Deng, Z, O'Malley, MK
Conference NameIEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2009)
Conference LocationSt. Louis, MO

When analyzed in the tangential speed domain, human movements exhibit a multi-peaked speed profile which is commonly interpreted as evidence for submovements. At slow speeds, the number of the peaks increases and the peaks also become more distinct, corresponding to non-smoothness or intermittency in the movement. In this study, we evaluate two potential sources proposed in the literature for the origins of movement intermittency and conclude that intermittency is more likely due to noise in the neuromuscular system as opposed to a central movement planner that generates intermittent plans. This conclusion is based on the assumption that the central planner would be expected to introduce similar levels of intermittency for different joints, while accumulating noise in the neuromuscular circuitry would be expected to exhibit itself as increase in noise in distal direction. We have used a 3D motion capture system to record trajectories of fingertip, wrist, elbow and shoulder as five participants completed a simple manual circular tracking task at various constant speed levels. Statistical analyses indicated that movement intermittency, quantified by a number of peaks metric, increased in distal direction, supporting the noise model for origins of intermittency. Movement speed was determined to have a significant effect on intermittency, while orientation of the task plane showed no significance.

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