Y: Don, what would you say if I told you that you and I each have a signature way of moving?
D: It seems intuitive doesn’t it, Yaël? I mean after knowing you for so long, I think I could imitate your walk if I tried.
Y: Well, that’s because there’s a style to how I walk. You know how that looks. Of course, after a long day on my feet or over my lifetime, that appearance will probably change. But the inner workings of how my muscles move are stable and distinct to me.
D: So, it’s a physical feature, sort of like your fingerprints?
Y: You could say that. Like a fingerprint, there’s a unique nature to my muscles and to how they work together.
D: Put this in context for me, Yael. How did scientists find out about signature movements?
Y: French and Australian scientists began by recruiting 80 participants, both male and female. In a lab, these people pedaled on bikes. The participants also performed multiple walking exercises. They did all this while wearing electrodes that produced information readouts about how their muscles coordinate.
D: What happened then?
Y: The program used an algorithm to differentiate the muscle patterns of each participant and used that information to identify each person. It was very good at its job. Ninety-nine percent of the time the program was able to recognize the individuals solely by muscle patterns.
D: That’s pretty incredible! What does it mean for science?
Y: It can help us understand why people react differently to exercise regimes and physical therapy routines; it could help scientists improve personalized medicine. And I think it can also remind us that our bodies are exceptional.