Control of Trajectory Modifications in Target-Directed Reaching

J Mot Behav. 1993 Sep;25(3):140-152. doi: 10.1080/00222895.1993.9942045.


Human reaching movements to fixed and displaced visual targets were recorded and compared with simulated movements generated by using a two-joint arm model based on the equilibrium-point (EP) hypothesis (lambda model) of motor control (Feldman, 1986). The aim was to investigate the form of central control signals underlying these movements. According to this hypothesis, movements result from changes in control variables that shift the equilibrium position (EP) of the arm. At any time, muscle activations and forces will depend on the difference between the arm's EP and its actual position and on the limb's velocity. In this article, we suggest that the direction of EP shift in reaching is specified at the hand level, whereas the rate of EP shift may be specified at the hand or joint level. A common mechanism underlying reaching to fixed and displaced targets is proposed whereby the EP of the hand shifts in a straight line toward the present target. After the target is displaced, the direction of the hand EP shift is modified toward the second target. The results suggest that the rate of shift of the hand EP may be modified for movements in different parts of the work space. The model, with control signals that vary in a simple fashion over time, is able to generate the kinematic patterns observed empirically.