Minimum acceleration with constraints of center of mass: A unified model for arm movements and object manipulation

Raz Leib, Amir Karniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Daily interaction with the environment consists of moving with or without objects. Increasing interest in both types of movements drove the creation of computational models to describe reaching movements and, later, to describe a simplified version of object manipulation. The previously suggested models for object manipulation rely on the same optimization criteria as models for reaching movements, yet there is no single model accounting for both tasks that does not require reminimization of the criterion for each environment. We suggest a unified model for both cases: minimum acceleration with constraints for the center of mass (MACM). For point-to-point reaching movement, the model predicts the typical rectilinear path and bell-shaped speed profile as previous criteria. We have derived the predicted trajectories for the case of manipulating a mass-onspring and show that the predicted trajectories match the observations of a few independent previous experimental studies of human arm movement during a mass-on-spring manipulation. Moreover, the previously reported "unusual" trajectories are also well accounted for by the proposed MACM. We have tested the predictions of the MACM model in 3 experiments with 12 subjects, where we demonstrated that the MACM model is equal or better (Wilcoxon sign-rank test, P < 0.001) in accounting for the data than three other previously proposed models in the conditions tested. Altogether, the MACM model is currently the only model accounting for reaching movements with or without external degrees of freedom. Moreover, it provides predictions about the intermittent nature of the neural control of movements and about the dominant control variable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1646-1655
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2012


  • Optimal control
  • Pontryagin's minimum principle
  • Reaching movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Physiology


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