Building an internal model of a myoelectric prosthesis via closed-loop control for consistent and routine grasping

Exp Brain Res. 2015 Jun;233(6):1855-65. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4257-1. Epub 2015 Mar 25.


Prosthesis users usually agree that myoelectric prostheses should be equipped with somatosensory feedback. However, the exact role of feedback and potential benefits are still elusive. The current study investigates the nature of human control processes within a specific context of routine grasping. Although the latter includes a fast feedforward control of the grasping force, the assumption was that the feedback would still be useful; it would communicate the outcome of the grasping trial, which the subjects could use to learn an internal model of feedforward control. Nine able-bodied subjects produced repeatedly a desired level of grasping force using different control configurations: feedback versus no-feedback, virtual versus real prosthetic hand, and joystick versus myocontrol. The outcome measures were the median and dispersion of the relative force errors. The results demonstrated that the feedback was successful in limiting the variability of the routine grasping due to uncertainties in the system and/or the command interface. The internal models of feedforward control could be employed by the subjects to control the prosthesis without the loss of performance even after the force feedback was removed. The models were, however, unstable over time, especially with myocontrol. Overall, the study demonstrates that the prosthesis system can be learned by the subjects using feedback. The feedback is also essential to maintain the model, and it could be delivered intermittently. This approach has practical advantages, but the level to which this mechanism can be truly exploited in practice depends directly on the consistency of the prosthesis control interface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*