Dynamic and kinematic strategies for head movement control

Barry W. Peterson*, Hyeonki Choi, Timothy Hain, Emily Keshner, Grace C.Y. Peng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This paper describes our analysis of the complex head-neck system using a combination of experimental and modeling approaches. Dynamical analysis of head movements and EMG activation elicited by perturbation of trunk position has examined functional contributions of biomechanically and neurally generated forces in lumped systems with greatly simplified kinematics. This has revealed that visual and voluntary control of neck muscles and the dynamic and static vestibulocollic and cervicocollic reflexes preferentially govern head-neck system state in different frequency domains. It also documents redundant control, which allows the system to compensate for lesions and creates a potential for substantial variability within and between subjects. Kinematic studies have indicated the existence of reciprocal and co-contraction strategies for voluntary force generation, of a vestibulocollic strategy for stabilizing the head during body perturbations and of at least two strategies for voluntary head tracking. Each strategy appears to be executed by a specific muscle synergy that is presumably optimized to efficiently meet the demands of the task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-393
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 2001


  • Biomechanics
  • Head movement
  • Vestibular reflexes
  • Visually guided tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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