Cortical and corticospinal output modulations during reaching movements with varying directions and magnitudes of interaction torques
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The neural command required to coordinate a multi-joint movement is inherently complex. During multi-joint movement of the limb, the force created from movement at one joint may create a torque at a second joint known as an interaction torque. Interaction torques may be assistive or resistive thereby aiding or opposing the motion of the second joint, respectively. For movement to be effectively controlled, the central nervous system should modulate neural output to the muscles to appropriately account for interaction torques. The present study examined the neural output from the primary motor cortex before and during reaching movements that required different combinations of assistive and resistive interaction torques occurring at the shoulder and elbow joints. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation to probe neural output from the primary motor cortex, results indicate that corticospinal output controlling the upper arm is related to resistive interaction torques occurring at the shoulder joint. Further, cortical output to bi-articular muscles is associated with interaction torque and this may be driven by the fact that these muscles are in an advantageous position to control torques produced between inter-connection segments. Humans have a tendency to avoid reaching movements that involve resistive interaction torques and this may be driven by the requirement of increased neural output associated with these movements.
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