Abstract

Current research on discrete and rhythmic movements differs in both experimental procedures and theory, despite the ubiquitous overlap between discrete and rhythmic components in everyday behaviors. Models of rhythmic movements usually use oscillatory systems mimicking central pattern generators (CPGs). In contrast, models of discrete movements often employ optimization principles, thereby reflecting the higher-level cortical resources involved in the generation of such movements. This letter proposes a unified model for the generation of both rhythmic and discrete movements. We show that a physiologically motivated model of a CPG can not only generate simple rhythmic movements with only a small set of parameters, but can also produce discrete movements if the CPG is fed with an exponentially decaying phasic input. We further show that a particular coupling between two of these units can reproduce main findings on in-phase and antiphase stability. Finally, we propose an integrated model of combined rhythmic and discrete movements for the two hands. These movement classes are sequentially addressed in this letter with increasing model complexity. The model variations are discussed in relation to the degree of recruitment of the higher-level cortical resources, necessary for such movements.

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