View Full Version : SUMMARY: Undergrad motor control labs

Gordon Chalmers
03-19-1998, 04:59 AM
I have sent this summary to all three discussion groups that I posed the
question to, so that explains why you may have recieved multiple copies of
this summary.

The following is a summary (finally) of the responses I obtained to my
original posting regarding undergraduate motor control labs that people
have developed.

The original posting:
Does anybody have recommendations for undergrad neuromuscular control
lab activities for exercise science students? Any specific lab manual,
text or web based resources would be appreciated. I have intentionally
omitted a description of existing lab resources & equipment, because I
would like to elicit a wide range of suggestions, some to work towards, not
just suggestions for existing facilities. Also, what text book has been
found to be good for the lecture component?
I don't need all the details of lab size etc. as Danny Too requested for
Biomechanics labs, but my summary will include any information I receive.

Three people provided detailed lab information, including sending me
complete copies of lab manuals (Tuula Tyry, Noraxon USA Inc., Jeff Ives,
Ithaca College, G. Rash, Frazier Rehab Center, Louisville, Kentucky).
Others provided other details and suggestions.

Thanks again to the people who provided me with information.

The information is summarized as follows:

FIRST: I list the few web based resources identified

SECOND:To give an overview of what is being taught in the lab manuals I was
sent, I have listed the titles of the labs provided by Drs. Ives & Rash.

THIRD: The description by Dr. Tyry of what she does with students, and
other lab comments made by Doug Weeks, Regis.

FOURTH: A list of books recommended (with a few lab comments mixed in).


You might want to look at the Clinical Gait Analysis Teach-in at:
(FROM Chris Kirtley, Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Motor control Instructors at the University of Arizona posts class
outlines on their web page. I think it can be accessed through the
Neuromuscular Control website at: http:// www.neuromus.org

Introduction to Motor Learning

Speed/Accuracy Tradeoff, Criterion Measures, and EMG

Bimanual Control


Motor Unit Activation: Single Motor Unit Control, Rheobase, Chronaxie

Reflexive Control

Muscle and Neuromechanics

Posture, Balance, Locomotion

A Case Study

Motor control instrumentation: EMG principles, kinematics and kinetics.

Cognitive processes in motor control: attention, motivation, effort, and
neural outflow. Alternate: Transfer effects, bilateral transfer, and
neural overflow: can training occur without training?

>From motor learning to motor control: the training of single motor units
and motor unit behavior.

Reflex function and integration of reflex activities into volitional control.

Physiological tremor.

What the EMG reveals about muscle contraction: the effects of static,
ballistic, ramp, concentric, and eccentric contractions on the EMG signal.

What does the CNS control in the muscle: using the triphasic EMG pattern
from single joint movements as a motor control model.

Length-Tension-Velocity relationships: measuring and taking advantage of
the stretch short cycle.

Static, ballistic, and PNF stretching: the neuromechanics of stretching.

Gaitlab: investigation into computerized analysis of gait.

Anthropometrics and gait: is walking as simple as predicted by the
force-driven harmonic oscillator?

Neuromuscular re-education: training to reduce tremor with biofeedback.

Using manual therapy to elicit neuromuscular changes.

Using EMG to assess muscle function and use: How does the abdominal
musculature activate during different types of sit-ups?

Kinesthetic Awareness

Electromyographic: Analysis of Muscle Contraction

isometric, concentric, and isometric breaking strength

load-speed relationships


After reviewing the basic physiology of muscle contraction and some of the
associated terminology, I have the students explore and experiment with
different types of movements while viewing the associated EMG amplitude,
pattern and variability. (See Lab 1). As we move on to more complex
issues (coordinative structures, timing, invariant characteristics of a
movement pattern etc.) I have them see for themselves what is happening
by using multiple channels of EMG. Metabolic fatigue and recovery are
demonstrated with frequency analysis etc. This has proven to be quite an
eye-opening experience even for those with long experience in
rehabilitation or exercise science, especially since they serve as subjects

The course I teach is a combo of motor learning and motor control
topics, and unfortunately can't refer you to a "stand alone" set of labs
for motor control topics. I do use software that was developed by Dave
Goodman and was distributed through Brown & Benchmark Publishers until
this year (they dropped the contract to distribute it). It has labs
primarily devoted to motor learning topics, but does have a few devoted
to motor control topics, such as probe reaction time, psychological
refractory period, etc. It does not have modules developed for
physiological labs in motor control, such as EMG. However, this year, we
purchased a computer-based student lab package from Biopac that has
modlues devoted to EMG as well as modules that would be useful for
undergrad experiences in such courses as Ex Phys (ECG, stress testing,
etc.) and Sport Psych (biofeedback, EEG & relaxation. etc.). I would
suggest that you contact Dave to see if he can supply you with the disks
for his labs, and the number for Biopac is (805)685-0066 if you want to
check it out. (FROM Doug Weeks, Regis)

1995 (new) edition of "Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior by
Kandel, Schartz, and Jessell. Its a condensed version of the classic
Principles of Neural Science by Kandel and Schartz. (FROM Patrick Hannon,

I use no text for the students, instead I have an extensive course packet
based on notes I have made over the past 4-5 years (when I got my first
job). I use no text because there is no text suitable for undergraduates.
Most texts are rife full of esoteric theories, have data/info based on
non-real life lab experiments, are just to difficult for the average
undergrad, or have too much of a motor learning/psychological approach.
Most of all, the text are simply
way too theory-based with no practical information the students can use.
(FROM Jeff Ives)

I'm sure some use McGill's text only, some would use Lieber's text only (I
use his as well), many I am sure use Enoka only.(ALSO FROM Jeff Ives)

For motor control labs we review motor systems neuroanatomy using Pinel's
Anatomy of the Human Brain, Allyn and Bacon 1998. In the past I also used
Diamond, Scheibel and Elson's The Human Brain Coloring Book, Barnes &
Noble, 1985. Along with this we usually have an EMG demonstration, and a
demonstrtion of anticipatory postural EMG in leg muscles associated with a
voluntary arm flexion. We are also adding an H-reflex demo lab. For a
text, I use selected chapters from Kandel, Schwartz & Jessell, Principles
of Neural Science, Elsevier, 3rd edition.
(FROM Ann M. Scarborough, UTEXAS

Shea's text, Motor Control and Learning (prentice hall) has an
accompanying lab manual for use on the computer to demonstrate key
principles, laws, etc.
(FROM A. Behrman)

gordon; if it is a lower level class, i recommend charle shea's book an
accompanying lab manual, "motor control and learning" (i may have those two
reversed. the text provides very good and accessible examples at the
beginning of each chapter, and the lab manual comes with a pc-compatible
disc on which some very basic reaction time tasks and such are provided.
I would also recommend either one of richard schmidt's books (one of which
shall be coming out with a new edition this fall), and richard magill's
text, motor learning, which may be the most useful undergrad text there
is(FROM Stephen Page)

Since "motor control" is so broad, I'm not certain where your emphasis with
undergrads would be. But, you might consider two texts: "Neuromechanical
Basis of Kinesiology" by Roger Enoka and "Skeletal Muscle Structure and
Function" by Rick Lieber. (FROM A. Messaros, UIOWA)

************************************************** ***********
Gordon Chalmers, Ph.D.
Dept. of Physical Education, Health and Recreation
Western Washington University, M/S 9067
Bellingham WA

Phone: (360) 650-3113
FAX: (360) 650-7447