Normal subjects made bilaterally symmetric rapid elbow flexions or extensions ("focal movement") while free standing or when supported by being strapped to a firm wall behind them (different "postural set"). In some trials a load opposed the movement two thirds of the way into its course. Electromyographic activity in leg and trunk muscles ("associated postural adjustments") demonstrated specific patterns for each type of movement. Activity in these muscles began prior to activity in the arm muscles and demonstrated a distal-to-proximal order of activation. The EMG patterns were characterised by alternating activity in the antagonist pairs similar to the triphasic pattern seen in the arm muscles. When the movement type was changed change of the pattern of the postural muscles occurred over several trials. It is concluded that the associated postural adjustments are pre-programmed motor activity linked to the focal movement, specific for the focal movement including anticipated events and the postural set.
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