When performing oscillatory movements of two joints in the sagittal plane, there is a directional constraint for performing such movements. Previous studies could not distinguish whether the directional constraint reflected movement direction encoded in the extrinsic (outside the body) reference frame or in the intrinsic (the participants' torso/head) reference frame since participants performed coordinated movements in a sitting position where the torso/head was stationary relative to the external world. In order to discern the reference frame in the present study, participants performed paced oscillatory movements of the ipsilateral wrist and ankle in the sagittal plane in a standing position so that the torso/head moved relative to the external world. The coordinated movements were performed in one of two modes of coordination, moving the hand upward concomitant with either ankle plantarflexion or ankle dorsiflexion. The same directional mode relative to extrinsic space was more stable and accurate as compared with the opposite directional mode. When forearm position was changed from the pronated position to the supinated position, similar results were obtained, indicating that the results were independent of a particular coupling of muscles. These findings suggest that the directional constraint on ipsilateral joints movements in the sagittal plane reflects movement direction encoded in the extrinsic reference frame.
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