We hypothesize that motor outputs are hierarchically organized such that descending temporal commands based on desired task-level goals flexibly recruit muscle synergies that specify the spatial patterns of muscle coordination that allow the task to be achieved. According to this hypothesis, it should be possible to predict the patterns of muscle synergy recruitment based on task-level goals. We demonstrated that the temporal recruitment of muscle synergies during standing balance control was robustly predicted across multiple perturbation directions based on delayed sensorimotor feedback of center of mass (CoM) kinematics (displacement, velocity, acceleration). The modulation of a muscle synergy's recruitment amplitude across perturbation directions was predicted by the projection of CoM kinematic variables along the preferred tuning direction(s), generating cosine tuning functions. Moreover, these findings were robust in biphasic perturbations that initially imposed a perturbation in the sagittal plane and then, before the sagittal balance was recovered, perturbed the body in multiple directions. Therefore biphasic perturbations caused the initial state of the CoM to differ from the desired state, and muscle synergy recruitment was predicted based the error between the actual and desired upright state of the CoM. These results demonstrate that that temporal motor commands to muscle synergies reflect task-relevant error as opposed to sensory inflow. The proposed hierarchical framework may represent a common principle of motor control across motor tasks and levels of the nervous system, allowing motor intentions to be transformed into motor actions.
- sensorimotor feedback
- motor control
- posture and balance
- Copyright © 2012, Journal of Neurophysiology