Neural primitives for motion control

Ferdinando A. Mussa-Ivaldi*, Sara A. Solla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The neural control of movement requires the ability to deal with changes, both in the environment and in the parameters that characterize the mechanical structure of the organism. Here we discuss the three types of coordinate representations that sensory and motor systems use to generate and control movements, and argue that the intrinsic redundancy of the musculoeskeletal system can be exploited to implement control signals that result in successful task completion while allowing for variance in trajectory parameters not relevant to the task. We also argue that muscle synergies activated through the stimulation of specific loci along the spinal cord provide evidence for the existence of a vocabulary of motor primitives that can be combined, either simultaneously or sequentially, to generate a broad repertoire of complex movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-650
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Adaptive control
  • Central pattern generators
  • Coordination
  • Force-fields
  • Primitives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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