How does the human neurophysiological system self-organize to achieve optimal phase relationships among joints and limbs, such as in the composite rhythms of butterfly and front crawl swimming, drumming, or dancing? We conducted a systematic review of literature relating to central nervous system (CNS) control of phase among joint/limbs in continuous rhythmic activities. SCOPUS and Web of Science were searched using keywords “Phase AND Rhythm AND Coordination”. This yielded 1039 matches from which 23 papers were extracted for inclusion based on screening criteria. The empirical evidence arising from in-vivo, fictive, in-vitro, and modelling of neural control in humans, other species, and robots indicates that the control of movement is facilitated and simplified by innervating muscle synergies by way of spinal central pattern generators (CPGs). These typically behave like oscillators enabling stable repetition across cycles of movements. This approach provides a foundation to guide the design of empirical research in human swimming and other limb independent activities. For example, future research could be conducted to explore whether the Saltiel two-layer CPG model to explain locomotion in cats might also explain the complex relationships among the cyclical motions in human swimming.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited