Spinal Cord Injury Center, University Hospital Balgrist
Master Thesis : Neural coordination of bilateral finger and hand movements
Background : The coordination of inter-limb movements is mediated by a neural coupling which allows the automated coordination of limbs during complex motor behaviors.
Recent experiments on bilateral sequential finger movements on a keyboard have shown that in contrast compared to a neural coupling of the hands no coupling exists between the fingers.
Objective : Strength of neural coupling in two different tasks of bilateral index finger / hand movements.
Methods : There will be two motor tasks where the extent of neural coupling will be investigated : 1. bilateral synchronous index finger flexion movements and 2.
right side : precision movements; left side : hand movements of similar amplitude and resistance (corresponding to situation when playing violin) in synchrony with right finger flexion movements.
Strong and short mechanical perturbations (step perturbation) or right ulnar nerve stimulations will randomly be released when the right finger performs flexion movements following the displayed trajectory.
Goal : Presence / strength of neural coupling, i.e. strength of uni- or bilateral compensatory reflex EMG responses in bilateral forearm flexor muscles to the randomly induced displacements to the right index finger.
Hypothesis : Neural coupling is present during task 2 but weak or lacking in task 1 due to the stronger independence of index finger in the right-side precision task.
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