This study investigated the muscle activity and force variability in response to perturbation of assistive force during isometric elbow flexion. Sixteen healthy right-handed young men (age: 22.0 ± 1.1 years; height: 171.9 ± 4.8 cm; weight 68.4 ± 11.2 kg) were recruited and the muscle activity of biceps brachii and triceps brachii were assessed using surface electromyography. Workload force and assistive force applied on isometric elbow flexion significantly affected the changes in both biceps and triceps muscle activities. A higher assistive force was shown to result in reduced biceps muscle activity compared to the unassisted period. In contrast, the efficiency of the assistive force acting on the biceps decreased as the assistive force increased. In general, the force variability of the biceps muscle remained approximately the same at lower workload force conditions than that at higher workload force conditions. In conclusion, higher assistive force may not yield a higher performance efficiency in human-assistive force interaction.
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