Posturally induced transitions in rhythmic multijoint limb movements. Academic Article uri icon


  • The coordination dynamics (e.g., stability, loss of stability, switching) of multijoint arm movements are studied as a function of forearm rotation. Rhythmical coordination of flexion and extension of the right elbow and wrist was examined under the following conditions: (1) forearm supine (forearm angle 0 degrees), simultaneous coordination of wrist flexion/elbow flexion and wrist extension/elbow extension (termed in-phase); and (2) forearm prone (forearm angle 160 degrees), simultaneous coordination of wrist flexion/elbow extension and wrist extension/elbow flexion (termed anti-phase). Starting in either pattern, subjects rotated the forearm in nine 20 degrees steps, producing 15 cycles of motion per step at a frequency of 1.25 Hz. Spontaneous transitions from pattern 1 to pattern 2 and from pattern 2 to pattern 1 were observed at a critical forearm angle. The critical angle depended on the direction of forearm rotational change, thus revealing the hysteretic nature of the switching process. En route to the transition, regardless of direction of forearm rotation, enhancement of phase fluctuations and an increase in perturbation response times (critical slowing down) were observed in the relative phasing between the joints. Such observations support loss of stability as a central, self-organizing process underlying coordinative change. Neurophysiological mechanisms supporting multijoint coordinative dynamics are discussed.

published proceedings

  • Exp Brain Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Buchanan, J. J., & Kelso, J. A.

citation count

  • 72

complete list of authors

  • Buchanan, JJ||Kelso, JA

publication date

  • May 1993