"Building Blocks of Movement," by Zoubin Ghahramani. Nature, 12 October 2000, pages 682-683.
Coordinating the movements of an arm is a computational task that human brains carry out easily but that is formidable to analyze mathematically. This kind of analysis is needed to program robot arms to move. Researchers believe that the brain may carry out complicated movements by combining simpler "movement primitives". This news piece describes a research article, appearing in the same issue of Nature, that provides new insights into this problem. This research provides "a new mathematical description of the motor primitives that the central nervous system uses to learn to control the arm," Ghahramani writes.
--- Allyn Jackson