The Role of Neuromuscular Properties in Determining the End-Point of a Movement

Y. Aoyagi, R. B. Stein, V. K. Mushahwar, A. Prochazka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


How does the activation of several muscles combine to produce reliable multijoint movements? To study this question, we stimulated up to six sites in muscles, nerves, and the spinal cord. Flexion and extension of the hip, knee, and ankle were elicited in anesthetized and decerebrate cats. The movements occurred largely in the sagittal plane against a constant spring load and covered most of the passive range of motion of the cat's limb. The movements of the end-point (foot) were compared with predictions based on vectorial summation of end-point movements elicited by stimulating single electrodes. The lengths of the movements produced by stimulating more than one site exceeded what was expected from linear summation for small movements (<3 cm) and showed a less than linear summation for large movements (>11 cm). The data were compared with muscle and limb models. Since the deviations from linearity were predictable as a function of distance, adjustments might easily be learned by trial and error. The summation was less complete for spinal stimulation, compared to nerve and muscle stimulation, so spinal circuits do not appear to compensate for the nonlinearities. Movements were elicited from positions of the limb not only in a neutral position, but also in front and behind the neutral position. A degree of convergence was seen, even with stimulation of some individual muscles, but the convergence increased as more muscles were stimulated and more joints were actively involved. This suggests that convergence to an equilibrium-point arises at least partly from muscle properties. In conclusion, there are deviations from linear vectorial summation, and these deviations increase when more muscles are stimulated. The convergence to an equilibrium-point may simplify the computations needed to produce movements involving many muscles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03-2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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