Loughborough University

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Limits to temporal synchronization in fundamental hand and finger actions

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posted on 2014-11-21, 09:07 authored by Yanjia Gu
Coordinated movement is critical not only to sports technique and performance but to daily living and as such represents a fundamental area of research. Coordination requires being able to produce the right actions at the right time and has to incorporate perception, cognition, and forceful neuro-muscular interaction with the environment. Coordinated movements of the hands and fingers are some of the most complex activities undertaken where continuous learning and adaptation take place, but the temporal variability of the most basic movement components is still unknown. This thesis investigates the extent of temporal variability in the execution of four different simple hand and finger coordination tasks, with the purpose to find the various intrinsic temporal variability which limit the ability to coordinate the hands in space and time. Study one showed that in a synchronized bi-lateral two finger tapping test (<<1 cm movement to target) the best participant had a temporaltiming variability of 4.8 ms whereas the largest time variability could be as high as 24.8 ms. No obvious improvement was found after transfer practice, whereas the average time variability for asynchronized tapping decreased from 62.1 ms to 30.3 ms after instructed practice indicating a likely change in task grouping. Study two showed that in a unilateral thumb-index finger pinch and release test, the largest mean timing variability was 12 ms for pinching irrespective of performing the task in a slow alert manner or at a faster speed. However, the mean temporal variability for release was only 6.3 ms when the task was performed in a more alert manner and indicates that release is more accurately controlled temporally than grip. Study three suggested that in a unilateral sagittal plane throwing action of the lower arm and hand, that elbow and wrist coordination for dynamic index finger tip location was better with a radial-ulnar deviation, darts-type, throwing action than a wrist flexor-extensor type action, basketball free throw type action (the mean variability was 37.5 ms and 27.2 ms, respectively). Study four compared the variability in bi-lateral finger tapping between voluntary tapping and involuntary finger contraction tapping. Electrically stimulated neural contractions had significantly lower force onset variability than voluntary or direct magnetic stimulation of muscles (6 ms, 9.5 ms, and 10.3 ms for electrically stimulated, voluntary and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation stimulated contraction). This work provides a comprehensive analysis of the temporal variability in various fundamental digital movement tasks that can aid with the understanding of basic human coordination in sporting, daily living and clinical areas.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Yanjia Gu

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en