Kinematic properties of on-line error corrections in the monkey

Alon Fishbach*, Stephane A. Roy, Christina Bastianen, Lee E. Miller, James C. Houk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Despite the abundant experimental evidence for the irregular, multipeaked velocity profiles that often characterize rapid human limb movements, there is currently little agreement on how to interpret these phenomena. While in some studies these irregularities have been interpreted as reflecting a continuous control process, in others the irregularities are considered to be evidence for the existence of discrete movement primitives that are initiated by an intermittent controller. Here we introduce a novel "soft symmetry" method for analyzing irregular movements and decomposing them into their discrete movement primitives. We applied this method to analyze rapid pronation/supination wrist movements in monkeys during a one-dimensional tracking task. We showed that the properties of the extracted overlapping submovements (OSMs) were very similar to those of single, regular movements, despite the fact that the decomposition algorithm did not restrict the extracted submovements to a particular shape. In addition we showed that the movement primitives corrected preceding primitives and that the correction initiation time was highly variable, and thus could not be explained by the relatively fixed sensorimotor delay. These results argue against the interpretation of movement irregularities as reflecting a continuous control process and reinforce the hypothesis that movement irregularities result from an intermittent control mechanism. Demonstrating these phenomena in non-human primates will allow neurophysiological investigation of the neural mechanisms involved in these corrections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-457
Number of pages16
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Discrete submovements
  • Hand movement
  • Intermittent control
  • Monkey
  • Motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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