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2
Research Questions and Hypotheses
2.1.
Research Questions
The main research questions that will be addressed are:
Question I Do trunk muscle activation patterns form a modular network comprising M-modes?
Question II Does the “neural controller” stabilizes task-relevant performance variables that they
can increase also the likelihood for spine loading?
Question III Does the ability of the “neural controller” to coordinate trunk muscle activation
patterns remains unchanged during lifting or lowering tasks?
Question IV Do the same sets of M-modes that stabilize task-relevant performance variables could
be involved also in stabilization of COP shifts?
to modulate the activation of the trunk muscles to ensure, on one hand, the control of movement
and posture in order to maintain trunk motion
2.2.
Research Hypotheses
It is hypothesized that trial-by-trial trunk muscle activation patterns in motor-equivalent manual
material lifting and lowering tasks can be parameterized and analyzed based on the notion of
M-mode. M-modes were viewed as elemental variables and was hypothesized that “neural controller” acts in the M-mode space in order to formulate muscle synergies by their combination and
to modulate the gain of each M-mode in order to stabilize the time profile of selected performance
variables (PVs), which have been used previously to characterize the risk level for development
of WRLBD. By using the UCM framework (Latash, Scholz, and Schoner, 2007) we expected to
quantify the synergestic control of M-mode for stabilizing the selected PVs, and to determine
whether the risk level for development of WRLBD would affect it. Main hypotheses are:
Hypothesis I Trunk muscle activation patterns during lifting and lowering tasks can be described
with a few M-modes that are consistent across participants;
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