Neural Control of Hand Muscles During Prehension

  • Jamie A. Johnston
  • Sara A. Winges
  • Marco Santello
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 629)


In the past two decades a large number of studies have successfully characterized important features of the kinetics and kinematics of object grasping and manipulation, providing significant insight into how the Central Nervous System (CNS) controls the hand, one of the most complex motor systems, in a variety of behaviors. In this chapter we briefly review studies of hand kinematics and kinetics and highlight their major findings and open questions. The major focus of this chapter is on the neural control of the hand, an objective that has been pursued by studies on electromyography (EMG) of hand muscles. Here we review what has been learned through different yet complementary methodological approaches. In particular, the study of single motor unit activity has revealed how the distribution of common neural input within and across hand muscles might reflect a muscle-pair specific organization. Studies of motor unit population have revealed important synergistic patterns of muscle activity while also revealing muscle-pair specific patterns of neural coupling. We conclude the chapter with the results of recent simulation studies aiming at combining advantages of single and multi-unit recordings to maximize the amount of information that can be extracted from EMG signal analysis.


Motor Unit Hand Muscle Motor Unit Activity Common Input Single Motor Unit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie A. Johnston
  • Sara A. Winges
  • Marco Santello
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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