Modification of muscle activation patterns during fast goal-directed arm movements

J Mot Behav. 1984 Mar;16(1):2-19. doi: 10.1080/00222895.1984.10735308.


The motor programming of fast goal-directed arm movements was studied in a tracking task. A target jumped once or twice randomly to the left or right direction with an interstimulus interval (ISI) in a range between 50 and 125 msec. Double step stimuli were either two steps in the same direction (C-trial) or in opposite direction (R-trial). Tracking results show that at the beginning average EMG-activity is the same for responses to single step trials, R-trials and C-trials. Differences set in after some time equal to or somewhat shorter than ISI. It was concluded that muscle activation patterns of fast goal-directed movements are not preprogrammed but that they can be modified during the movement. The time interval between second target step and the moment when EMG activity of the double step response deviates from the EMG activity of a single step (RT2) could be smaller than the time interval between first target displacement and EMG onset. (RT1). If modification of the muscle activation pattern required a longer or larger activation of the active muscle, RT2 tended to be smaller than RT1, whereas RT2 was about equal to RT1 if the new muscle activation required a termination of the ongoing muscle activation pattern and the activation of another muscle.