Optimality versus variability: Effect of fatigue in multi-finger redundant tasks

Jaebum Park, Tarkeshwar Singh, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, Mark L. Latash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We used two methods to address two aspects of multi-finger synergies and their changes after fatigue of the index finger. Analytical inverse optimization (ANIO) was used to identify cost functions and corresponding spaces of optimal solutions over a broad range of task parameters. Analysis within the uncontrolled manifold (UCM) hypothesis was used to quantify co-variation of finger forces across repetitive trials that helped reduce variability of (stabilized) performance variables produced by all the fingers together. Subjects produced steady-state levels of total force and moment of force simultaneously as accurately as possible by pressing with the four fingers of the right hand. Both before and during fatigue, the subjects performed single trials for many force-moment combinations covering a broad range; the data were used for the ANIO analysis. Multiple trials were performed at two force-moment combinations; these data were used for analysis within the UCM hypothesis. Fatigue was induced by 1-min maximal voluntary contraction exercise by the index finger. Principal component (PC) analysis showed that the first two PCs explained over 90% of the total variance both before and during fatigue. Hence, experimental observations formed a plane in the four-dimensional finger force space both before and during fatigue conditions. Based on this finding, quadratic cost functions with linear terms were estimated from the experimental data. The dihedral angle between the plane of optimal solutions and the plane of experimental observations (DANGLE) was very small (a few degrees); it increased during fatigue. There was an increase in fatigue of the coefficient at the quadratic term for the index finger force balanced by a drop in the coefficients for the ring and middle fingers. Within each finger pair (index-middle and ring-little), the contribution of the ''central'' fingers to moment production increased during fatigue. An index of antagonist moment production dropped with fatigue. Fatigue led to higher co-variation indices during pronation tasks (index finger is an agonist) but opposite effects during supination tasks. The results suggest that adaptive changes in co-variation indices that help stabilize performance may depend on the role of the fatigued element, agonist or antagonist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-607
Number of pages17
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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