Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. Biological rhythmic movements can be viewed as instances of self-sustained oscillators. Auto-oscillatory phenomena must involve a nonlinear friction function, and usually involve a nonlinear elastic function. With respect to rhythmic movements, the question is: What kinds of nonlinear friction and elastic functions are involved? The nonlinear friction functions of the kind identified by Rayleigh (involving terms such as θ˙3) and van der Pol (involving terms such as θ2θ˙), and the nonlinear elastic functions identified by Duffing (involving terms such as θ3), constitute elementary nonlinear components for the assembling of self-sustained oscillators. Recently, additional elementary nonlinear friction and stiffness functions expressed, respectively, through terms such as θ2θ˙3 and θθ˙2, and a methodology for evaluating the contribution of the elementary components to any given cyclic activity have been identified. The methodology uses a quantification of the continuous deviation of oscillatory motion from ideal (harmonic) motion. Multiple regression of this quantity on the elementary linear and nonlinear terms reveals the individual contribution of each term to the oscillator’s non-harmonic behavior. In the present article the methodology was applied to the data from three experiments in which human subjects produced pendular rhythmic movements under manipulations of rotational inertia (experiment 1), rotational inertia and frequency (experiment 2), and rotational inertia and amplitude (experiment 3). The analysis revealed that the pendular oscillators assembled in the three experiments were compositionally rich, braiding linear and nonlinear friction and elastic functions in a manner that depended on the nature of the task.
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