Superimposition in interlimb rhythmic coordination

Marcelle Schwartz, Eric L. Amazeen, M. T. Turvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Von Holst (1939/1973) identified three processes of intersegmental rhythmic coordination: the magnet effect, the maintenance tendency, and superimposition. Superimposition, the augmenting or diminishing of amplitude (A), is believed to interact with the other two processes in such a way that the most stable organization will maximize A. The present experiment tests this hypothesis by having subjects oscillate hand-held pendulums in three different modes, one uncoupled (single pendulum oscillations) and two coupled (inphase (φ = 0) and antiphase (φ = π)). The order parameter dynamics of relative phase predict an increased phase attraction at φ = 0 resulting in greater A. In agreement with predictions, oscillations at φ = 0 were shown to (i) be more stable (that is, lower SD φ) and (ii) possess a greater A than at φ = π. Additionally, uncoupled A was only slightly greater than coupled A suggesting weak coupling. These results support the hypothesized relation between superimposition and the magnet effect and the strategy of modelling coupled oscillators without reference to A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-694
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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