Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 209, Issue 3, pp 319–332 | Cite as

Motor equivalence and self-motion induced by different movement speeds

  • J. P. Scholz
  • T. Dwight-Higgin
  • J. E. Lynch
  • Y. W. Tseng
  • V. Martin
  • G. Schöner
Research Article


This study investigated pointing movements in 3D asking two questions: (1) Is goal-directed reaching accompanied by self-motion, a component of the joint velocity vector that leaves the hand’s movement unaffected? (2) Are differences in the terminal joint configurations among different speeds of reaching motor equivalent (i.e., terminal joint configurations differ more in directions of joint space that do not produce different pointer-tip positions than in directions that do) or non-motor equivalent (i.e., terminal joint configurations differ equally or more in directions of joint space that lead to different pointer-tip positions than in directions that do not affect the pointer-tip position). Subjects reached from an identical starting joint configuration and pointer-tip location to targets at slow, moderate, and fast speeds. Ten degrees of freedom of joint motion of the arm were recorded. The relationship between changes in the joint configuration and the three-dimensional pointer-tip position was expressed by a standard kinematic model, and the range- and null subspaces were computed from the associated Jacobian matrix. (1) The joint velocity vector and (2) the difference vector between terminal joint configurations from pairs of speed conditions were projected into the two subspaces. The relative length of the two components was used to quantify the amount of self-motion and the presence of motor equivalence, respectively. Results revealed that reaches were accompanied by a significant amount of self-motion at all reaching speeds. Self-motion scaled with movement speed. In addition, the difference in the terminal joint configuration between pairs of different reaching speeds revealed motor equivalence. The results are consistent with a control system that takes advantage of motor redundancy, allowing for flexibility in the face of perturbations, here induced by different movement speeds.


Reaching Motor Control Motor equivalence Movement velocity 



This work was supported by NINDS Grant R01-NS050880, awarded to John Scholz.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Scholz
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Dwight-Higgin
    • 1
  • J. E. Lynch
    • 3
  • Y. W. Tseng
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. Martin
    • 4
  • G. Schöner
    • 4
  1. 1.Physical Therapy DepartmentUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Biomechanics and Movement Science Program, 307 McKinly LaboratoryUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  4. 4.Institut für Neuroinformatik NB 3/31Ruhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany

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