, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 1726-1739,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 26 Oct 2012

Informational and Neuromuscular Contributions to Anchoring in Rhythmic Wrist Cycling


Continuous rhythmic movements are often geared toward particular points in the movement cycle, as evidenced by a local reduction in trajectory variability. These so-called anchor points provide a window into motor control, since changes in the degree of anchoring may reveal how informational and/or neuromuscular properties are exploited in the organization of rhythmic movements. The present experiment examined the relative contributions of informational timing (metronome beeps) and neuromuscular (wrist postures) constraints on anchoring by systematically varying both factors at movement reversal points. To this end, participants cycled their right wrist in a flexed, neutral, or extended posture, either self-paced or synchronized to a metronome pacing peak flexion, peak extension, or both peak flexion and extension. The effects of these manipulations were assessed in terms of kinematics, auditory-motor coordination, and muscle activity. The degree of anchoring seen at the reversal points depended on the degree of compatibility of the prevailing configuration of neuromuscular and informational timing constraints, which had largely independent effects. We further observed systematic changes in muscular activity, which revealed distinct contributions of posture- and muscle-dependent neuromuscular properties to motor control. These findings indicate that the anchor-based discretization of the control of continuous rhythmic wrist movements is determined by both informational timing and neuromuscular constraints in a task-specific manner with subtle interactions between the two, and exemplify how movement variability may be exploited to gain such insights.