Redundancy

Redundancy is usually considered a problem because it assumes that the controller, some program in the brain, must ensure that all of the individual elements produce very specific outputs for movement production.

However, the fact that there are more elements needed for completing a task is not necessarily a problem. Instead, it may provide us with motor abundance, meaning there are many ways to solve the same motor task.¹

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While both words mean “something extra,” they have different connotations. Redundancy means something extra that you do not need, while abundance means something extra we enjoy and find useful.¹

Framing redundancy as abundant allows us to instead view a task as a challenge that can be solved in an infinite number of ways. As the cliche goes, we have many ways to skin a cat.

Motor abundance suggests that when we learn to solve a motor task, we take advantage of the fact that we have a near infinite degrees of freedom.

Instead of coming up with unique or “correct” solutions for the redundant degrees of freedom, we use the redundancy for more stable performance outcomes of any given motor task.

This allows us to be adaptable. We often have to deal with perturbations (external changes in the environment), fatigue, physical obstacles in the way… or we may want to multitask. Thus, abundance instead of redundancy.

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