We used the framework of the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis to explore the relations between anticipatory synergy adjustments (ASAs) and anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) during feedforward control of vertical posture. ASAs represent a drop in the index of a multimusclemode synergy stabilizing the coordinate of the center of pressure in preparation to an action. ASAs reflect early changes of an index of covariation among variables reflecting muscle activation, whereas APAs reflect early changes in muscle activation levels averaged across trials. The assumed purpose of ASAs is to modify stability of performance variables, whereas the purpose of APAs is to change magnitudes of those variables. We hypothesized that ASAs would be seen before APAs and that this finding would be consistent with regard to the muscle-mode composition defined on the basis of different tasks and phases of action. Subjects performed a voluntary body sway task and a quick, bilateral shoulder flexion task under self-paced and reaction time conditions. Surface muscle activity of 12 leg and trunk muscles was analyzed to identify sets of 4 muscle modes for each task and for different phases within the shoulder flexion task. Variance components in the muscle-mode space and indexes of multimuscle-mode synergy stabilizing shift of the center of pressure were computed. ASAs were seen ~100-150 ms prior to the task initiation, before APAs. The results were consistent with respect to different sets of muscle modes defined over the two tasks and different shoulder flexion phases. We conclude that the preparation for a self-triggered postural perturbation is associated with two types of anticipatory adjustments, ASAs and APAs. They reflect different feedforward processes within the hypothetical hierarchical control scheme, resulting in changes in patterns of covariation of elemental variables and in their patterns averaged across trials, respectively. The results show that synergies quantified using dissimilar sets of muscle modes show similar feedforward changes in preparation to action.
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