The control and perception of antagonist muscle action

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The review covers a range of topics related to the role of the antagonist muscles in agonist–antagonist pairs within the theory of the neural control of movements with spatial referent coordinates, the principle of abundance, and the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis. It starts with the mechanical role of the antagonist in stopping movements and providing necessary levels of effector mechanical characteristics for fast movements. Further, it discusses the role of antagonist muscle activation bursts during voluntary movements, force production, and postural tasks. Recent studies show that agonist and antagonist motor units are united into common groups related to two basic commands, reciprocal and coactivation. A number of phenomena are considered including intra-muscle synergies stabilizing net force production, unintentional force drifts during isometric force production, effects of voluntary muscle coactivation on force production and perception, and perceptual errors caused by various factors including lack of visual feedback and muscle vibration. Taken together, the findings suggest inherent instability of neural commands (time functions of the stretch reflex threshold) to antagonist muscles requiring visual information for accurate performance. They also suggest that neural commands to antagonist muscles are not readily incorporated into kinesthetic perception leading to illusions and errors in matching tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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