Abnormal motor patterns in the framework of the equilibrium-point hypothesis: a cause for dystonic movements?

Mark L. Latash, Simon R. Gutman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Until now, the equilibrium-point hypothesis (λ model) of motor control has assumed nonintersecting force-length characteristics of the tonic stretch reflex for individual muscles. Limited data from animal experiments suggest, however, that such intersections may occur. We have assumed the possibility of intersection of the characteristics of the tonic stretch reflex and performed a computer simulation of movement trajectories and electromyographic patterns. The simulation has demonstrated, in particular, that a transient change in the slope of the characteristic of an agonist muscle may lead to temporary movement reversals, hesitations, oscillations, and multiple electromyographic bursts that are typical of movements of patients with dystonia. The movement patterns of three patients with idiopathic dystonia during attempts at fast single-joint movements (in the elbow, wrist, and ankle) were recorded and compared with the results of the computer simulation. This approach considers that motor disorders in dystonia result from faulty control patterns that may not correlate with any morphological or neurophysiological changes. It provides a basis for the high variability of dystonic movements. The uniqueness of abnormal motor patterns in dystonia, that precludes statistical analysis across patients, may result from subtle differences in the patterns of intersecting characteristics of the tonic stretch reflex. The applicability of our analysis to disordered multijoint movement patterns is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-94
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • General Computer Science


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