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Your Signature Moves

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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.

Treadmill.

Like a fingerprint, there's a unique nature to our muscles and to how they work together. (Wikimedia Commons)

Each one of us has a signature style to how we move and walk. Of course, after a long day or over a lifetime, that appearance will probably change. But the inner workings of how our muscles move are stable and distinct to each one of us.

You could say that it's a physical feature, like our fingerprints. Like a fingerprint, there's a unique nature to our muscles and to how they work together.

Scientists discovered the existence of signature movements in the following way. 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.

The program then 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. The program was able to recognize the individuals solely by muscle patterns 99 percent of the time.

This can all help us understand why people react differently to exercise regimes and physical therapy routines. It could help scientists improve personalized medicine. It can also help remind us that each one of our bodies is exceptional.

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