Fundamental patterns of bilateral muscle activity in human locomotion
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Human gait is characterized by smooth, regular and repeating movements but the control system is complex: there are many more actuators (i.e. muscles) than degrees of freedom in the system. Statistical pattern-recognition techniques have been applied to examine muscle activity signals, but these have all concentrated exclusively on unilateral gait. We report here the application of factor analysis to the electromyographic patterns of 16 muscles (eight bilateral pairs) in ten normal subjects. Consistent with our prior work, we have established two factors, named loading response and propulsion, which correspond with important phases in the gait cycle. In addition, we have also discovered a third factor, which we have named the coordinating factor, that maintains the phase shift between the left and right sides. These findings suggest that the central nervous system solves the problem of high dimensionality by generating a few fundamental signals which control the major muscle groups in both legs.
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