1. Human subjects made discrete elbow flexions in a horizontal plane over different distances, from a stationary initial position to a visually defined stationary target 9° wide. We measured joint angle, acceleration, and electromyograms (EMGs) from two agonist and two antagonist muscles. 2. Subjects made movements over four different distances following one of four different instructions. The first instructed the subject simply to choose a comfortable speed. The other three explicitly emphasized either speed, accuracy, or maintenance of the 'same' speed over different distances. These instructions produced a wide range of movement velocities. 3. The initial rises of the acceleration (and therefore of the inertial torque), as well as the initial slope of the agonist EMG, were all invariant over changes in the target distance for any single instruction but were all sensitive to the given instruction. 4. Our results demonstrate that the speed-insensitive strategy is a standard or default pattern for performing movements that may be carried out for different instructions over a wide range of speeds. A uniform intensity of the excitation pulse is not a by-product of moving at maximal speed. Submaximal intensities are associated with submaximal speeds and are a selected feature of the pattern of movement control.
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