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Title: Generalizability of muscle synergies in isometric force generation versus point-to-point reaching in the human upper extremity workspace

Isometric force generation and kinematic reaching in the upper extremity has been found to be represented by a limited number of muscle synergies, even across task-specific variations. However, the extent of the generalizability of muscle synergies between these two motor tasks within the arm workspace remains unknown. In this study, we recorded electromyographic (EMG) signals from 13 different arm, shoulder, and back muscles of ten healthy individuals while they performed isometric and kinematic center-out target matches to one of 12 equidistant directional targets in the horizontal plane and at each of four starting arm positions. Non-negative matrix factorization was applied to the EMG data to identify the muscle synergies. Five and six muscle synergies were found to represent the isometric force generation and point-to-point reaches. We also found that the number and composition of muscle synergies were conserved across the arm workspace per motor task. Similar tuning directions of muscle synergy activation profiles were observed at different starting arm locations. Between the isometric and kinematic motor tasks, we found that two to four out of five muscle synergies were common in the composition and activation profiles across the starting arm locations. The greater number of muscle synergies that were involved in achieving a target match in the reaching task compared to the isometric task may explain the complexity of neuromotor control in arm reaching movements. Overall, our results may provide further insight into the neuromotor compartmentalization of shared muscle synergies between two different arm motor tasks and can be utilized to assess motor disabilities in individuals with upper limb motor impairments.

 
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Award ID(s):
2145321
NSF-PAR ID:
10501224
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume:
17
ISSN:
1662-5161
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    Muscle synergies, computationally identified intermuscular coordination patterns, have been utilized to characterize neuromuscular control and learning in humans. However, it is unclear whether it is possible to alter the existing muscle synergies or develop new ones in an intended way through a relatively short-term motor exercise in adulthood. This study aimed to test the feasibility of expanding the repertoire of intermuscular coordination patterns through an isometric, electromyographic (EMG) signal-guided exercise in the upper extremity (UE) of neurologically intact individuals.

    Methods

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    Trial registration

    This study was registered at the Clinical Research Information Service (CRiS) of the Korea National Institute of Health (KCT0005803) on 1/22/2021.

     
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