We investigated the ability of two persons to produce force-stabilizing synergies in accurate multi-finger force production tasks under visual feedback on the total force only. The subjects produced a time profile of total force (the sum of two hand forces in one-person tasks and the sum of two subject forces in two-person tasks) consisting of a ramp-up, steady-state, and ramp-down segments; the steady-state segment was interrupted in the middle by a quick force pulse. Analyses of the structure of inter-trial finger force variance, motor equivalence, anticipatory synergy adjustments (ASAs), and the unintentional drift of the sharing pattern were performed. The two-person performance was characterized by a dramatically higher amount of inter-trial variance that did not affect total force, higher finger force deviations that did not affect total force (motor equivalent deviations), shorter ASAs, and larger drift of the sharing pattern. The rate of sharing pattern drift correlated with the initial disparity between the forces produced by the two persons (or two hands). The drift accelerated following the quick force pulse. Our observations show that sensory information on the task-specific performance variable is sufficient for the organization of performance-stabilizing synergies. They suggest, however, that two actors are less likely to follow a single optimization criterion as compared to a single performer. The presence of ASAs in the two-person condition might reflect fidgeting by one or both of the subjects. We discuss the characteristics of the drift in the sharing pattern as reflections of different characteristic times of motion within the subspaces that affect and do not affect salient performance variables.
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