Current methods for measuring stiffness during human arm movements are either limited to one-joint motions, or lead to systematic errors. The technique presented here enables a simple, accurate and unbiased measurement of endpoint stiffness during multi-joint movements. Using a computer-controlled mechanical interface, the hand is displaced relative to a prediction of the undisturbed trajectory. Stiffness is then computed as the ratio of restoring force to displacement amplitude. Because of the accuracy of the prediction (< 1 cm error after 200 ms) and the quality of the implementation, the movement is not disrupted by the perturbation. This technique requires only 13 as many trials to identify stiffness as the method of Gomi and Kawato (1997, Biological Cybernetics 76, 163-171) and may, therefore, be used to investigate the evolution of stiffness during motor adaptation. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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