Toward a new theory of motor synergies

Motor Control. 2007 Jul;11(3):276-308. doi: 10.1123/mcj.11.3.276.


Driven by recent empirical studies, we offer a new understanding of the degrees of freedom problem, and propose a refined concept of synergy as a neural organization that ensures a one-to-many mapping of variables providing for both stability of important performance variables and flexibility of motor patterns to deal with possible perturbations and/or secondary tasks. Empirical evidence is reviewed, including a discussion of the operationalization of stability/flexibility through the method of the uncontrolled manifold. We show how this concept establishes links between the various accounts for how movement is organized in redundant effector systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Models, Biological*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology