, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 343-350
Date: 13 Apr 2002

Coordination between equilibrium and hand trajectories during whole body pointing movements

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We examined the coordination between equilibrium and voluntary pointing movements executed from the standing position, using the whole body. It has previously been shown that trunk movement has little effect upon kinematic characteristics of hand pointing when movements are executed in the sitting position. The present study asked if elements of hand trajectory are modified by requirements of large trunk displacements and fine equilibrium control when pointing movements are executed from the standing position. To achieve this, center of pressure (CoP) and center of mass (CoM) displacements were analyzed along with the kinematics of the pointing hand. Results showed that the CoM was not stabilized (it displaced between 23% and 61±21% of the foot’s length), confirming that instead of a compensation of mechanical perturbations due to arm and trunk movements, the present equilibrium strategy consisted of controlling CoM acceleration towards the target. Hand paths were curved and were not distance or speed invariant. Rather than simple inefficiencies in programming or execution, path curvature suggested that different hand movement strategies were chosen as a function of equilibrium constraints. In light of these results, we hypothesize that postural stability may play a role in the generation of hand trajectory for complex, whole-body pointing movements, in addition to constraints placed upon end-effector kinematics or the dynamic optimization of upper-limb movements. A dependent regulation of equilibrium and spatial components of the movement is proposed.