Anticipation modulates neuromechanics of drop jumps in known or unknown ground stiffness

PLoS One. 2019 Jan 25;14(1):e0211276. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211276. eCollection 2019.


With an emphasis on ballistic movements, an accurately anticipated neural control is an essential prerequisite to deliver a motor response coincidentally with the event of ground contact. This study investigated how previous knowledge of the ground condition affects proactive and reactive motor control in drop jumps (DJ). Thereby, human anticipatory capacity of muscle activation was investigated regarding neuromuscular activation, joint kinematics and peak forces associated with DJ performance. In 18 subjects, the effect of knowledge of two different surface conditions during DJs was evaluated. Peak force, ground-contact-time (GCT), rate of force development (RFD) and jump height were assessed. Electromyographic (EMG) activities of the m. soleus (SOL) and gastrocnemius medialis (GM) were assessed for 150ms before (PRE) and during ground contact (GC) for the short-, medium-, and long-latency responses. Ankle and knee joint kinematics were recorded in the sagittal plane.In the unknown conditions peak force, RFD and jump height declined, GCT was prolonged, proactive EMG activity (PRE) in SOL and GM was diminished (P<0.05). During GC, a decline in EMG activity in the unknown condition was manifested for SOL and GM for the SLR, MLR and LLR (P<0.05). Ankle and knee joint deflections during GC were increased in the unknown vs. known condition (P<0.05). Peak force, RFD and jump height were positively correlated to GM-EMG in PRE, SLR, MLR and LLR (P<0.05). Results revealed that proactive and reactive modulations in muscle activity prior and during GC are interrelated to the force-time characteristics and height of the jumps. The unknown condition revealed a comparable neuromuscular activity during pre-activation for both conditions, followed by an inhibition in the subsequent phase after touch down. These findings underline that anticipation is a determining factor influencing timing and adjustment of motor responses to accomplish ballistic movements regarding precision and performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle / physiology*
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This study was funded by the German Aerospace Center (DLR 50WB1715). The article processing charge was funded by the open access publication fund of the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.