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On the notion of motor primitives in humans and robots

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Document pages: 7 pages

Abstract: This article reviews two reflexive motor patterns inhumans: Primitive reflexes and motor primitives. Bothterms coexist in the literature of motor developmentand motor control, yet they are not synonyms. Whileprimitive reflexes are a part of the temporary motorrepertoire in early ontogeny, motor primitives refer tosets of motor patterns that are considered basic units ofvoluntary motor control thought to be presentthroughout the life-span. The article provides anoverview of the anatomy and neurophysiology ofhuman reflexive motor patterns to elucidate that bothconcepts are rooted in architecture of the spinal cord. Iwill advocate that an understanding of the humanmotor system that encompasses both primitive reflexesand motor primitives as well as the interaction withsupraspinal motor centers will lead to an appreciationof the richness of the human motor repertoire, which inturn seems imperative for designing epigenetic robotsand highly adaptable human machine interfaces.

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