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CAMP: On the Way to Physics of Human Movement

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Mark Latash, Pennsylvania State University
09 December 2014 from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
339 Davey Laboratory
Contact Name
Jie Shan
Contact Phone
(814) 865-7533
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 Motor control is a relatively young area of research trying to understand laws of nature (physics and physiology) that bring about natural human movements. The only current hypothesis that is compatible with both physics and physiology is the referent configuration (RC) hypothesis. It assumes that movements are controlled by setting referent spatial coordinates for salient, task-specific variables. Further a sequence of few-to-many (redundant) mappings result in RCs at lower levels such as those related to individual limb, digit, joint, and muscle states. The problems of motor redundancy that seem to emerge at all levels of analysis of this system have recently been viewed as the bliss of abundance. According to this approach, few-to-many mappings (addressed as synergies) are associated not with finding single, optimal, solutions but with facilitation of families of solutions that ensure movement stability in the poorly predictable environment. Several studies explored this scheme using both perturbations of movements and analysis of structure of variance across repetitive trials. In particular, a few novel phenomena have been discovered such as anticipatory synergy adjustments and back-coupling between actual and referent body trajectories. This approach has also been applied to studies of movement disorders and changes in motor coordination with age, fatigue, and practice. Overall, the recent developments in motor control offer hopes that physics of human movement will soon become reality.