Adaptive and phase transition behavior in performance of discrete multi-articular actions by degenerate neurobiological systems

Rein, Robert, Davids, Keith W., & Button, Chris (2009) Adaptive and phase transition behavior in performance of discrete multi-articular actions by degenerate neurobiological systems. Experimental Brain Research.

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The identification of attractors is one of the key tasks in studies of neurobiological coordination from a dynamical systems perspective, with a considerable body of literature resulting from this task. However, with regards to typical movement models investigated, the overwhelming majority of actions studied previously belong to the class of continuous, rhythmical movements. In contrast, very few studies have investigated coordination of discrete movements, particularly multi-articular discrete movements. In the present study, we investigated phase transition behavior in a basketball throwing task where participants were instructed to shoot at the basket from different distances. Adopting the ubiquitous scaling paradigm, throwing distance was manipulated as a candidate control parameter. Using a cluster analysis approach, clear phase transitions between different movement patterns were observed in performance of only two of eight participants. The remaining participants used a single movement pattern and varied it according to throwing distance, thereby exhibiting hysteresis effects. Results suggested that, in movement models involving many biomechanical degrees of freedom in degenerate systems, greater movement variation across individuals is available for exploitation. This observation stands in contrast to movement variation typically observed in studies using more constrained bi-manual movement models. This degenerate system behavior provides new insights and poses fresh challenges to the dynamical systems theoretical approach, requiring further research beyond conventional movement models.

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17 citations in Scopus
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15 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 28675
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Degeneracy, Movement Variability, Multi-Articular Actions, Constraints, Phase Transitions
DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-2040-x
ISSN: 1432-1106
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Motor Control (110603)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Springer-Verlag
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at
Deposited On: 23 Nov 2009 03:03
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:57

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