The detection of error information is an essential prerequisite of a feedback-based movement. This study investigated the differential behavior and neurophysiological mechanisms of a cyclic force-tracking task using error-reducing and error-enhancing feedback. The discharge patterns of a relatively large number of motor units (MUs) were assessed with custom-designed multi-channel surface electromyography following mathematical decomposition of the experimentally-measured signals. Force characteristics, force-discharge relation, and phase-locking cortical activities in the contralateral motor cortex to individual MUs were contrasted among the low (LSF), normal (NSF), and high scaling factor (HSF) conditions, in which the sizes of online execution errors were displayed with various amplification ratios. Along with a spectral shift of the force output toward a lower band, force output with a more phase-lead became less irregular, and tracking accuracy was worse in the LSF condition than in the HSF condition. The coherent discharge of high phasic (HP) MUs with the target signal was greater, and inter-spike intervals were larger, in the LSF condition than in the HSF condition. Force-tracking in the LSF condition manifested with stronger phase-locked EEG activity in the contralateral motor cortex to discharge of the (HP) MUs (LSF > NSF, HSF). The coherent discharge of the (HP) MUs during the cyclic force-tracking predominated the force-discharge relation, which increased inversely to the error scaling factor. In conclusion, the size of visualized error gates motor unit discharge, force-discharge relation, and the relative influences of the feedback and feedforward processes on force control. A smaller visualized error size favors voluntary force control using a feedforward process, in relation to a selective central modulation that enhance the coherent discharge of (HP) MUs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)