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Motor Control

  1. Herbert Heuer

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0565

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Heuer, H. 2010. Motor Control. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Dortmund, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Everyday actions such as reaching for an object, opening a bottle, or driving a car are rarely experienced as a problem. However, a brief consideration of how voluntary movements come about helps to appreciate the complexity of motor control. Movements are the result of actively modulated muscle forces, but only to some extent. Once a limb is set into motion, it exerts forces on other parts of the body. In addition there are external forces, gravity in particular. Thus, although initiated actively, the further course of a movement is shaped by nonmuscular forces in addition to muscular ones. The forces acting on a joint are combined in complex ways into torque, and the angular rotations at several joints determine the spatial position of the end effector, e.g., the tip of the finger. All in all, there is a complex transformation from muscle excitation to movement of an end effector, which can be broken down into partial transformations: from muscle excitations to muscle forces, from muscle forces to joint torques, from joint torques to joint rotations, from joint rotations to movement of the end effector.


  • control;
  • transformation;
  • anticipation;
  • adaptation