Neuromuscular synergies in motor control in normal and poststroke individuals

Sharon Israely, Gerry Leisman, Eli Carmeli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Muscle synergies are proposed to function as motor primitives that are modulated by frontal brain areas to construct a large repertoire of movement. This paper reviews the history of the development of our current theoretical understanding of nervous system-based motor control mechanisms and more specifically the concept of muscle synergies. Computational models of muscle synergies, especially the nonnegative matrix factorization algorithm, are discussed with specific reference to the changes in synergy control post-central nervous system (CNS) lesions. An alternative approach for motor control is suggested, exploiting a combination of synergies control or flexible muscle control used for gross motor skills and for individualized finger movements. Rehabilitation approaches, either supporting or inhibiting the use of basic movement patterns, are discussed in the context of muscle synergies. Applications are discussed for the use of advanced technologies that can promote the recovery and functioning of the human CNS after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-612
Number of pages20
JournalReviews in the Neurosciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 28 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2018.


  • interneurons
  • motor control
  • motor primitives
  • muscle synergy
  • nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF)
  • spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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