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Complexity of central processing in simple and choice multilimb reaction-time tasks

Boisgontier, M.P., Wittenberg, G.F., Fujiyama, H.ORCID: 0000-0002-7546-6636, Levin, O. and Swinnen, S.P. (2014) Complexity of central processing in simple and choice multilimb reaction-time tasks. PloS one, 9 (2). e90457.

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The default mode of the motor system is a coupling between limbs. However, in some movements, a decoupling is required and thus calls for selection and facilitation/inhibition processes. Here, we investigate the relative contribution of recruitment versus selection processes to the overall processing complexity. To this aim we proposed a new multilimb reaction-time task (MUL-RT). Simple, choice and normalized (choice minus simple) RT were analysed together with error rates in thirty-six young adults for 15 coordination modes including all possible configuration of limb recruitment. Simple and normalized RTs were respectively assumed to be indicative of the recruitment and selection processes. Results supported a model of coupling/decoupling interactions respectively reporting weak, intermediate and strong interaction for selecting diagonal, ipsilateral and homologous limbs. Movement laterality (left vs. right) had no effect on selection complexity, whereas selecting upper limbs was less challenging than selecting lower limbs. Results in the different coordination modes suggested that recruitment complexity decreased as follows: 3 limbs = 4 limbs>2 limbs (homologous, ipsilateral and diagonal)>1 limb, and selection complexity as follows: 2 diagonal limbs>3 limbs>2 ipsilateral limbs>1 limb = 2 homologous limbs>4 limbs. Based on these ordinal scales of recruitment and selection complexity, we extrapolated the overall processing complexity of the simple and choice MUL-RT. This method was efficient in reproducing the absolute results we obtained on a ratio scale (ms) and demonstrated that processing complexity in simple RT was mainly governed by the 'recruitment principle' (the more limbs recruited the lower the performance), whereas contributions of recruitment and 'selection principle' (nature of the coordination determines performance) to overall processing complexity were similar in choice RT.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2014 Boisgontier et al.
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