We studied target reaching tasks involving not only the arms but also the trunk and legs, which necessitated some trunk flexion. Such tasks can be successfully completed using an infinite number of combinations of segment motions due to the inherent kinematic redundancy with the excessive degrees of freedom (DOFs). Sagittal plane motions of six segments (shank, thigh, pelvis, trunk, humerus, and forearm) and dynamic torques of six joints (ankle, knee, hip, lumbar, shoulder, and elbow) were analyzed separately by principal component (PC) analyses to determine if there was a commonality among the shapes of the respective waveforms. Additionally, PC analyses were used to probe for constraining relationships among the 1) relative magnitudes of segment excursions and 2) the peak-to-peak dynamic joint torques. In summary, at the kinematic level, the tasks are simplified by the use of a single common waveform for all segment excursions with 89.9% variance accounted for (VAF), but with less fixed relationships among the relative scaling of the magnitude of segment excursions (62.2% VAF). However, at the kinetic level, the time course of the dynamic joint torques are not well captured by a single waveform (72.7% VAF), but the tasks are simplified by relatively fixed relationships among the scaling of dynamic joint torque magnitudes across task conditions (94.7% VAF). Taken together, these results indicate that, while the effective DOFs in a multi-joint task are reduced differently at the kinematic and kinetic levels, they both contribute to simplifying the neural control of these tasks.
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