Limb movement is smooth and corrections of movement trajectory and amplitude are barely noticeable midflight. This suggests that skeletomuscular motor commands are smooth in transition, such that the rate of change of acceleration (or jerk) is minimized. Here we applied the methodology of minimum-jerk submovement decomposition to a member of the skeletomuscular family, the head movement. We examined the submovement composition of three types of horizontal head movements generated by nonhuman primates: head-alone tracking, head-gaze pursuit, and eye-head combined gaze shifts. The first two types of head movements tracked a moving target, whereas the last type oriented the head with rapid gaze shifts toward a target fixed in space. During head tracking, the head movement was composed of a series of episodes, each consisting of a distinct, bell-shaped velocity profile (submovement) that rarely overlapped with each other. There was no specific magnitude order in the peak velocities of these submovements. In contrast, during eye-head combined gaze shifts, the head movement was often comprised of overlapping submovements, in which the peak velocity of the primary submovement was always higher than that of the subsequent submovement, consistent with the two-component strategy observed in goal-directed limb movements. These results extend the previous submovement composition studies from limb to head movements, suggesting that submovement composition provides a biologically plausible approach to characterizing the head motor recruitment that can vary depending on task demand. © 2012 Chen et al.
Chen, L. L., Lee, D., Fukushima, K., & Fukushima, J. (2012). Submovement Composition of Head Movement. PLoS ONE, 7(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047565