The muscle synergy hypothesis is an archetype of the notion of Dimensionality Reduction (DR) occurring in the central nervous system due to modular organization. Toward validating this hypothesis, it is important to understand if muscle synergies can reduce the state-space dimensionality while maintaining task control. In this paper we present a scheme for investigating this reduction utilizing the temporal muscle synergy formulation. Our approach is based on the observation that constraining the control input to a weighted combination of temporal muscle synergies also constrains the dynamic behavior of a system in a trajectory-specific manner. We compute this constrained reformulation of system dynamics and then use the method of system balancing for quantifying the DR; we term this approach as Trajectory Specific Dimensionality Analysis (TSDA). We then investigate the consequence of minimization of the dimensionality for a given task. These methods are tested in simulations on a linear (tethered mass) and a non-linear (compliant kinematic chain) system. Dimensionality of various reaching trajectories is compared when using idealized temporal synergies. We show that as a consequence of this Minimum Dimensional Control (MDC) model, smooth straight-line Cartesian trajectories with bell-shaped velocity profiles emerged as the optima for the reaching task. We also investigated the effect on dimensionality due to adding via-points to a trajectory. The results indicate that a trajectory and synergy basis specific DR of behavior results from muscle synergy control. The implications of these results for the synergy hypothesis, optimal motor control, motor development, and robotics are discussed.



Publication Date


Publication Title

Front Comput Neurosci





Organisational Unit

School of Psychology


Hankel singular values, dimensionality reduction, modular motor control, muscle synergies, optimal motor control, system balancing