Human arm redundancy: a new approach for the inverse kinematics problem

Avi Barliya, Nili Krausz, Hila Naaman, Enrico Chiovetto, Martin Giese, Tamar Flash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The inverse kinematics (IK) problem addresses how both humans and robotic systems coordinate movement to resolve redundancy, as in the case of arm reaching where more degrees of freedom are available at the joint versus hand level. This work focuses on which coordinate frames best represent human movements, enabling the motor system to solve the IK problem in the presence of kinematic redundancies. We used a multi-dimensional sparse source separation method to derive sets of basis (or source) functions for both the task and joint spaces, with joint space represented by either absolute or anatomical joint angles. We assessed the similarities between joint and task sources in each of these joint representations, finding that the time-dependent profiles of the absolute reference frame’s sources show greater similarity to corresponding sources in the task space. This result was found to be statistically significant. Our analysis suggests that the nervous system represents multi-joint arm movements using a limited number of basis functions, allowing for simple transformations between task and joint spaces. Additionally, joint space seems to be represented in an absolute reference frame to simplify the IK transformations, given redundancies. Further studies will assess this finding’s generalizability and implications for neural control of movement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number231036
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • coordinate frames
  • inverse kinematics
  • motion planning
  • motor compositionality
  • motor coordination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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