Publication Details

Hilt, P. M., Berret, B., Papaxanthis, C., Stapley, P. J. & Pozzo, T. (2016). Evidence for subjective values guiding posture and movement coordination in a free-endpoint whole-body reaching task. Scientific Reports, 6 23868-1-23868-13.


When moving, humans must overcome intrinsic (body centered) and extrinsic (target-related) redundancy, requiring decisions when selecting one motor solution among several potential ones. During classical reaching studies the position of a salient target determines where the participant should reach, constraining the associated motor decisions. We aimed at investigating implicit variables guiding action selection when faced with the complexity of human-environment interaction. Subjects had to perform whole body reaching movements towards a uniform surface. We observed little variation in the self-chosen motor strategy across repeated trials while movements were variable across subjects being on a continuum from a pure knee flexion' associated with a downward center of mass (CoM) displacement to an ankle dorsi-flexion' associated with an upward CoM displacement. Two optimality criteria replicated these two strategies: a mix between mechanical energy expenditure and joint smoothness and a minimization of the amount of torques. Our results illustrate the presence of idiosyncratic values guiding posture and movement coordination that can be combined in a flexible manner as a function of context and subject. A first value accounts for the reach efficiency of the movement at the price of selecting possibly unstable postures. The other predicts stable dynamic equilibrium but requires larger energy expenditure and jerk.



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