Moving objects in a rotating environment: rapid prediction of Coriolis and centrifugal force perturbations

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Abstract

Grip force adaptation to Coriolis and centrifugal force perturbations was tested in healthy subjects. Eight subjects were seated in a rotating chamber in a rotating axis position. They each grasped an instrumented object resting on the thumb, which was stabilized by the other fingers from above. Subjects performed horizontal point-to-point movements with the grasped object away and towards the trunk. These movements were directed in a nonparallel fashion towards the axis of rotation prior (40 pre-rotational movements), during (80 per-rotational movements) and following (40 post-rotational movements) clockwise body rotation. During pre- and post-rotational movements two load force peaks of similar magnitude occurred during the acceleratory and deceleratory phases of the movements. Accordingly, a Coriolis force, which was orthogonal and proportional to the linear velocity of the moving arm, as well as a centrifugal force proportional to the system's squared angular velocity and movement amplitude developed during per-rotational movements. The load perturbations altered the load force profile in a characteristic way. The first 10 per-rotational movement sequence revealed that there was a less precise coupling between grip and load force magnitudes and a reduced temporo-spatial co-ordination between grip and load force profiles. With increasing number of per-rotational movements, there was significant improvement in the temporo-spatial co-ordination and in the coupling in force magnitude between grip and load force profiles, indicating an ongoing adaptation process. The coupling between grip and load forces proved to be similarly precise for the last 10 per-rotational movements and for pre-rotational movements, suggesting complete adaptation. Significant effects were observed for the first post rotational movements following adaptation to the per-rotational load characteristics both for the temporal co-ordination between grip and load forces and for the coupling in force magnitudes. However, the last 10 post-rotational movements proved to be similarly precise with comparison to pre-rotational performance in terms of grip force regulation with movement-induced loads. The results are discussed within the context of the CNS ability to use internal models when planning and processing anticipatory grip force adjustments during manipulative tasks.

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