Motor behavior is prone to variable conditions and deviates further in disorders affecting the nervous system. A combination of environmental and neural factors impacts the amount of uncertainty. Although the influence of these factors on estimating endpoint positions have been examined, the role of limb configuration on endpoint variability has been mostly ignored. Characterizing the influence of arm configuration (i.e. intrinsic factors) would allow greater comprehension of sensorimotor integration and assist in interpreting exaggerated movement variability in patients. In this study, subjects were placed in a 3-D virtual reality environment and were asked to move from a starting position to one of three targets in the frontal plane with and without visual feedback of the moving limb. The alternating of visual feedback during trials increased uncertainty between the planning and execution phases. The starting limb configurations, adducted and abducted, were varied in separate blocks. Arm configurations were setup by rotating along the shoulder-hand axis to maintain endpoint position. The investigation hypothesized: 1) patterns of endpoint variability of movements would be dependent upon the starting arm configuration and 2) any differences observed would be more apparent in conditions that withheld visual feedback. The results indicated that there were differences in endpoint variability between arm configurations in both visual conditions, but differences in variability increased when visual feedback was withheld. Overall this suggests that in the presence of visual feedback, planning of movements in 3D space mostly uses coordinates that are arm configuration independent. On the other hand, without visual feedback, planning of movements in 3D space relies substantially on intrinsic coordinates.
- Characterizing the Role of Arm Configuration on Patterns of Movement Variability in 3D Space