The applicability of static optimization (and, respectively, frequently used objective functions) for prediction of individual muscle forces for dynamic conditions has often been discussed. Some of the problems are whether time-independent objective functions are suitable, and how to incorporate muscle physiology in models. The present paper deals with a twofold task: (1) implementation of hierarchical genetic algorithm (HGA) based on the properties of the motor units (MUs) twitches, and using multi-objective, time-dependent optimization functions; and (2) comparison of the results of the HGA application with those obtained through static optimization with a criterion "minimum of a weighted sum of the muscle forces raised to the power of n". HGA and its software implementation are presented. The moments of neural stimulation of all MUs are design variables coding the problem in the terms of HGA. The main idea is in using genetic operations to find these moments, so that the sum of MUs twitches satisfies the imposed goals (required joint moments, minimal sum of muscle forces, etc.). Elbow flexion and extension movements with different velocities are considered as proper illustration. It is supposed that they are performed by two extensor muscles and three flexor muscles. The results show that HGA is a suitable means for precise investigation of motor control. Many experimentally observed phenomena (such as antagonistic co-contraction, three-phasic behavior of the muscles during fast movements) can find their explanation by the properties of the MUs twitches. Static optimization is also able to predict three-phasic behavior and could be used as practicable and computationally inexpensive method for total estimation of the muscle forces. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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