The control of rapid limb movement in the cat II. Scaling of isometric force adjustments

C. Ghez, D. Vicario

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In the previous study it was shown that cats were capable of making rapid and accurate adjustments in the force they applied to a lever in accord with information provided by a compensatory display. In the present study, isometric responses were examined in greater detail to determine 1. if a general control policy (or model) governing responses of different magnitudes could be inferred from the relations among output parameters and 2. if the earliest output measures were scaled to the preceding sensory events. The force adjustments elicited by the sudden motion of the display showed a linear relation between the peak force and the peak of its first derivative, dF/dt. Similarly, the peak d2F/dt2 was a linear function of dF/dt. By contrast, the times required to achieve the peak force and the peak dF/dt were largely independent of their magnitudes. These adjustments were produced by a burst of EMG activity in agonist muscles which coincided with the rising phase of dF/dt. The observations suggest that such motor outputs are determined by a pulse-step control policy. The amplitude of the pulse would control the rate of rise of dF/dt (and therefore also the peak force since the rising phase of dF/dt was of constant duration), and the step would control the level of the terminal steady state force. Both the peak force and the preceding peak dF/dt were highly correlated with the amplitude of the perturbation. Changes in display gain, which altered the required relation between input and output magnitudes, resulted in a gradual readjustment of the output parameters. It was concluded that the motor outputs were scaled from their inception to requirements dictated by the initial sensory information. The selection by the cat of the appropriate scaling function was contingent upon its previous experience with the device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1978
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • Cat
  • Isometric force
  • Pulse-step control
  • Tracking


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