To elaborate a motor plan and perform online control in the gravity field, the brain relies on priors and multisensory integration of information. In particular, afferent and efferent inputs related to the initial state are thought to convey sensorimotor information to plan the upcoming action. Yet, it is still unclear to what extent these cues impact motor planning. Here, we examined the role of initial information on the planning and execution of arm movements. Participants performed upward arm movements around the shoulder at three speeds and in two arm conditions. In the first condition, the arm was outstretched horizontally and required a significant muscular command to compensate for the gravitational shoulder torque before movement onset. In contrast, in the second condition, the arm was passively maintained in the same position with a cushioned support, and did not require any muscle contraction before movement execution. We quantified differences in motor performance by comparing shoulder velocity profiles. Previous studies showed that asymmetric velocity profiles reflect an optimal integration of the effects of gravity on upward movements. Consistently, we found decreased acceleration durations in both arm conditions. However, early differences in kinematic asymmetries and EMG patterns between the two conditions signaled a change of the motor plan. This different behavior carries on through trials when the arm was at rest before movement onset and may reveal a distinct motor strategy chosen in the context of uncertainty. Altogether, we suggest that the information available online must be complemented by accurate initial information.
- arm movement
- gravitational force
- initial information
- motor planning
- Copyright © 2015, Journal of Neurophysiology