Principles for learning single-joint movements - I. Enhanced performance by practice

Daniel M. Corcos*, Slobodan Jaric, Gyan C. Agarwal, Gerald L. Gottlieb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


This study investigated changes in myoelectric and mechanical variables for movements made "as fast as possible" as a function of practice in the context of the dual-strategy hypothesis of motor control (Gottlieb et al. 1989b). Five male subjects made 1400 rapid elbow flexion movements in ten blocks of 20 trials over seven experimental sessions. Improved performance was defined as increased peak movement velocity, decreased peak velocity variability, increased acceleration and deceleration, a proportionately greater increase in peak deceleration than peak acceleration, and greater consistency in terminal location. The changes observed over experimental sessions were very similar to (but larger and more consistent than) those seen for the first experimental session, with the partial exception of the timing of the antagonist electromyogram (EMG). In general, the increases in the values of the measured mechanical variables covary with myoelectric measures in the same way as when subjects are asked to intentionally change speed in accordance with the rules of the speed-sensitive strategy (Corcos et al. 1989). However, there are differences between subjects in the extent to which speed changes can be attributable to the agonist muscle, the antagonist muscle, or in the timing between the muscles. In one of the five subjects, the latency of the antagonist EMG decreased over blocks on the 1st day but increased over experimental sessions and was consequently activated proportionately later in the movement. This suggests that extended practice can give at least some subjects flexibility in modifying the motor programs that underlie movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-513
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1993


  • Agonist-antagonist electromyogram patterns
  • Human
  • Motor learning and control
  • Muscle activation
  • Practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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