© 2014 Gopalakrishnan, Modenese and Phillips. Prior experimental studies have hypothesized the existence of a "muscle synergy” based control scheme for producing limb movements and locomotion in vertebrates. Such synergies have been suggested to consist of fixed muscle grouping schemes with the co-activation of all muscles in a synergy resulting in limb movement. Quantitative representations of these groupings (termed muscle weightings) and their control signals (termed synergy controls) have traditionally been derived by the factorization of experimentally measured EMG. This study presents a novel approach for deducing these weightings and controls from inverse dynamic joint moments that are computed from an alternative set of experimental measurements—movement kinematics and kinetics. This technique was applied to joint moments for healthy human walking at 0.7 and 1.7 m/s, and two sets of "simulated” synergies were computed based on two different criteria (1) synergies were required to minimize errors between experimental and simulated joint moments in a musculoskeletal model (pure-synergy solution) (2) along with minimizing joint moment errors, synergies also minimized muscle activation levels (optimal-synergy solution). On comparing the two solutions, it was observed that the introduction of optimality requirements (optimal-synergy) to a control strategy solely aimed at reproducing the joint moments (pure-synergy) did not necessitate major changes in the muscle grouping within synergies or the temporal profiles of synergy control signals. Synergies from both the simulated solutions exhibited many similarities to EMG derived synergies from a previously published study, thus implying that the analysis of the two different types of experimental data reveals similar, underlying synergy structures.
Gopalakrishnan, A., Modenese, L., & Phillips, A. T. M. (2014). A novel computational framework for deducing muscle synergies from experimental joint moments. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2014.00153