Lift speed moderates the effects of muscle activity on perceived heaviness

Morgan L. Waddell, Eric Amazeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Research has shown that perceived heaviness is a function of the ratio of muscle activity (measured by electromyogram [EMG]) to the resulting acceleration of the object. However, objects will commonly be lifted at different speeds, implying variation in both EMG and acceleration. This study examined the effects of lifting speed by having participants report perceived heaviness for objects lifted by elbow flexion at three different speeds: slow, preferred, and fast. EMG and angular acceleration were recorded during these lifts. Both EMG and angular acceleration changed across lift speed. Nevertheless, despite these variations, perceived heaviness consistently scaled to the ratio of EMG to angular acceleration. The exponents on these parameters suggested that the saliency of muscle activity and movement changed across the three lift speeds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2174-2185
Number of pages12
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • EMG
  • Heaviness perception
  • Lifting kinematics
  • Movement preference
  • Psychophysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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