Arm-trunk coordination in the absence of proprioception

E. Tunik, H. Poizner, M. F. Levin, S. V. Adamovich, J. Messier, Y. Lamarre, A. G. Feldman

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38 Scopus citations


During trunk-assisted reaching to targets placed within arm's length, the influence of trunk motion on the hand trajectory is compensated for by changes in the arm configuration. The role of proprioception in this compensation was investigated by analyzing the movements of 2 deafferented and 12 healthy subjects. Subjects reached to remembered targets (placed ∼80° ipsilateral or ∼45° contralateral to the sagittal midline) with an active forward movement of the trunk produced by hip flexion. In 40% of randomly selected trials, trunk motion was mechanically blocked. No visual feedback was provided during the experiment. The hand trajectory and velocity profiles of healthy subjects remained invariant whether or not the trunk was blocked. The invariance was achieved by changes in arm interjoint coordination that, for reaches toward the ipsilateral target, started as early as 50 ms after the perturbation. Both deafferented subjects exhibited considerable, though incomplete, compensation for the effects of the perturbation. Compensation was more successful for reaches to the ipsilateral target. Both deafferented subjects showed invariance between conditions (unobstructed or blocked trunk motion) in their hand paths to the ipsilateral target, and one did to the contralateral target. For the other deafferented subject, hand paths in the two types of trials began to deviate after about 50% into the movement, because of excessive elbow extension. In movements to the ipsilateral target, when deafferented subjects compensated successfully, the changes in arm joint angles were initiated as early as 50 ms after the trunk perturbation, similar to healthy subjects. Although the deafferented subjects showed less than ideal compensatory control, they compensated to a remarkably large extent given their complete loss of proprioception. The presence of partial compensation in the absence of vision and proprioception points to the likelihood that not only proprioception but also vestibulospinal pathways help mediate this compensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Compensatory synergy
  • Deafferentation
  • Motor equivalence
  • Multijoint coordination
  • Reaching
  • Vestibular system
  • kinematics


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