Influence of movement speed on accuracy and coordination of reaching movements to memorized targets in three-dimensional space in a deafferented subject

Julie Messier, Sergei Adamovich, Michail Berkinblit, Eugene Tunik, Howard Poizner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Multiarticular reaching movements at different speeds produce differential demands for the on-line control of ongoing movements and for the predictive control of intersegmental dynamics. The aim of this study was to assess the ability of a proprioceptively deafferented patient and aged-matched control subjects to make precise and coordinated three-dimensional reaching movements at different speeds without vision during the movement. A patient with a complete loss of proprioception below the neck (C.F.) and five control subjects made reaching movements to four remembered visual targets at slow, natural, and fast speeds. All movements were performed without vision of the arm during the movements. The spatial accuracy, the movement kinematics and the interjoint coordination of these movements were analyzed. Results showed that control subjects made larger spatial errors at both slow and fast speeds than at natural speed. However, they synchronized motions at the shoulder and elbow joints and kept most movement kinematic features invariant across speed conditions. In contrast, C.F. failed to produce smooth and simultaneous motions at the shoulder and elbow joints at all speeds. Surprisingly, however, he made much larger errors than control subjects at slow and natural speeds, but not at fast speed. Analysis of patterns of interjoint coordination revealed that, when instructed to move fast, C.F. initiated arm movements by fixing the elbow while moving the shoulder joint to damp interaction torques exerted on the elbow joint from motion of the upper arm. The results demonstrated that, although proprioceptive loss disrupted normal control of multijoint movements at all speeds, when performing relatively fast three-dimensional movements, C.F. could control intersegmental dynamics by reducing the number of active joints. More importantly, the results highlight the dual role of proprioception in controlling multijoint movements; that is, to provide important cues both for the predictive control of interaction torques and for the synchronization of adjacent joints even when interactive torques are very small. These findings support the idea that proprioceptive input is used by the CNS to update an internal model of limb dynamics that adapts the motor plan according to biomechanical contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-416
Number of pages18
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • Deafferentation
  • Humans
  • Interjoint coordination
  • Movement speed
  • Three-dimensional reaching movements

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