Coordination between arm and leg movements during locomotion

S. Donker, P.J. Beek, R.C. Wagenaar, T. Mulder

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    To evaluate the contrasting dynamical and biomechanical interpretations of the 2:1 frequency coordination between arm and leg movements that occurs at low walking velocities and the 1:1 frequency coordination that occurs at higher walking velocities, the authors conducted an experiment in which they quantified the effect of walking velocity on the stability of the frequency and phase coordination between the individual limb movements. Spectral analyses revealed the presence of 2:1 frequency coordination as a consistent feature of the data in only 3 out of 8 participants at walking velocities ranging from 1.0 to 2.0 km/h, in spite of the fact that the eigenfrequencies of the arms were rather similar across participants. The degree of interlimb coupling, as indexed by weighted coherence and variability of relative phase, was lower for the arm movements and for ipsilateral and diagonal combinations of arm and leg movements than for the leg movements. Furthermore, the coupling between all pairs of limb movements was found to increase with walking velocity, whereas no clear signs were observed that the switches from 2:1 to 1:1 frequency coordination and vice versa were preceded by loss of stability. Therefore, neither a purely biomechanical nor a purely dynamical model is optimally suited to explain these results. Instead, an integrative model involving elements of both approaches seems to be required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86-102
    JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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