A mathematical tool to generate complex whole body motor tasks and test hypotheses on underlying motor planning

Med Biol Eng Comput. 2008 Jan;46(1):11-22. doi: 10.1007/s11517-007-0252-4. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


In spite of the complexity of human motor behavior, difficulties in mathematical modeling have restricted to rather simple movements attempts to identify the motor planning criterion used by the central nervous system. This paper presents a novel-simulation technique able to predict the "desired trajectory" corresponding to a wide range of kinematic and kinetic optimality criteria for tasks involving many degrees of freedom and the coordination between goal achievement and balance maintenance. Employment of proper time discretization, inverse dynamic methods and constrained optimization technique are combined. The application of this simulator to a planar whole body pointing movement shows its effectiveness in managing system nonlinearities and instability as well as in ensuring the anatomo-physiological feasibility of predicted motor plans. In addition, the simulator's capability to simultaneously optimize competing movement aspects represents an interesting opportunity for the motor control community, in which the coexistence of several controlled variables has been hypothesized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results