Control and Calibration of Multi-Segment Reaching Movements

Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 629)


Anatol Feldman introduced his equilibrium point theory of movement control in the mid-1960’s. The theory itself has evolved in a way which is as dynamic as the neurobiomechanical states it postulates. It continuously presents challenges to the scientific community to devise focused, quantitative experimental approaches to probing the nature of posture and movement. In this paper, we analyze several forms of equilibrium point theories and the evidence that has been used to evaluate them, in terms of whether the questions are framed precisely and whether the methods are appropriate for answering the questions. Specifically, we compare studies with mechanical, contacting perturbations against studies with non-contacting, inertial perturbations, and we address the relevance of studies with deafferented animals and humans, the relevance of studies in intact humans with the “do not intervene” instruction, and factors which must be considered in predicting movement dynamics from measurements made in isometric conditions. In addition, we point out that critical studies of the dynamics of reaching behavior in experimental animals may be confusing adjustments of grip force in controlling a manipulandum with adaptive recalibration of arm movement dynamics. We conclude that the exact contribution of equilibrium point control to movement regulation has yet to be firmly established. Nevertheless, the contribution of equilibrium point theories to progress in the field is paramount.


Equilibrium Point Grip Force Coriolis Force Movement Path Artificial Gravity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation LaboratoryBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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