spring 2010 n.
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Spring 2010. Trends in Motor Control. S-R approaches (Black Box) Hierarchical models (Active Processor) Dynamic systems (Dynamic interplay among systems). Study of Motor Behavior in the 20th Century. Prior to the 1900’s – introspection and self report measures

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study of motor behavior in the 20th century

S-R approaches (Black Box)

Hierarchical models (Active Processor)

Dynamic systems (Dynamic interplay among systems)

Study of Motor Behavior in the 20th Century

Prior to the 1900’s – introspection and self report measures

  • Turn of the century – observable only
    • S-R tradition
  • Bernstein’s work
    • Interactions of brain, body, and movement
  • World War II – Profound effects of motor control work

After World War II

    • Emphasis shifted to teaching, transfer, and retention
  • Late 40’s
    • Craik – Information Processing
    • Brain – computer relationship
      • Welford
        • Single Channel Processing
        • Psychological Refractoriness

Poulton’s work on anticipation and prediction in the 1950’s

    • Effector
    • Receptor
    • Perceptual
  • Fitts’ Law
    • Speed Accuracy Tradeoff (Length and width
      • Movement time
      • Movement extent
      • Movement accuracy
s r theory

In stimulus response models the stimulus triggers a chain of individual reflex circuits that create a response. In this view is a passive recipients responding to the stimuli present in the environment and to which he or she is confronted

Goal directed????

S-R Theory
hierarchical models

Motor programs began with the definition of a fixed set of commands that could be structured prior to movement initiation. Schmidt (1975, 1991) provided the concept of a generalized motor program (GMP).

“…existence of parameters, some variant, some invariant, that are applied to the GMP in order to specify how a particular movement pattern is to be expressed. These parameters specify overall duration of a movement, the overall force need to accomplish the movement, the temporal phasing of the movement pattern and, the spatial and temporal order in which the components of the movement are to be executed” (Schmdt, p. 5)

Hierarchical models








Hierarchical control mechanisms

Dynamic control mechanisms

how is the motor program defined

A fixed program that can be run off uninterrupted by peripheral feedback.

“The little man inside the head”

How is the motor program defined?
henry and rogers 1960

Memory drum theory

    • “This is because a more comprehensive program i.e., a larger amount of stored information, will be needed, and thus the neural impulses will require more time for coordination and diretion into the eventual motor neurons and muscles” (Henry & Rogers, 1960, p. 450).
    • Henry and Rogers (1960) would have argued that a more complicated movement is dependent on the complex search and ordering of the subroutines thereby affecting the reaction time to a stimulus.
Henry and Rogers (1960)

Chaos Theory

Complexity Theory

Coordinative Structure Theory

Dynamic Pattern Theory

dynamic systems approach

Perception/action model

Invariant motor behavior

Coordinative structures and dissipative structures

Ecological approach


Attractor state


Dynamic Systems Approach
dynamic systems

Dynamic systems focus on the interaction between the performer and the environment.

Dynamic systems differ from information processing systems by the way the action is produced.

The dynamics result from the interaction of neurological, biological, musculoskeletal systems. These constantly change.

Dynamic systems are emergent.

Dynamic Systems

“… The process by which an individual constrains or, condenses his or her available degrees of freedom into the smallest number possible to achieve the goal… (Rose, 1996; P11).

coordinative structures or synergies

Synergies result from organizational structures that coordinate the degrees of freedom for a particular movement. Some are ready-built and available at birth but the majority are developed throughout the lifespan and learned.

Muscles are not controlled individually but are functionally linked with other muscles so as to form autonomous systems.

Coordinative Structures or Synergies

Movements Emerge from Constraints




context specific variables bernstein


    • E.g., pectoralis major adducts the arm except when the angle of the arm is above the shoulder then contraction of the pectoralis major abducts the arm
  • Mechanical
    • Relationship between the state of the muscle and the movement sequence
      • Gravity
      • Inertia
  • Physiological
    • The motoneuron responds to signals from the brain and the spinal cord (which work together).
Context specific variables (Bernstein)