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Target and hand position information in the online control of goal-directed arm movements


Blouin J, Bresciani,  J-P
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Sarlegna, F., Blouin J, Bresciani, J.-P., Bourdin C, Vercher, J.-L., & Gauthier, G. (2003). Target and hand position information in the online control of goal-directed arm movements. Experimental Brain Research, 151(4), 524-535. doi:10.1007/s00221-003-1504-7.

The present study compared the contribution of visual information of hand and target position to the online control of goal-directed arm movements. Their respective contributions were assessed by examining how human subjects reacted to a change of the position of either their seen hand or the visual target near the onset of the reaching movement. Subjects, seated head-fixed in a dark room, were instructed to look at and reach with a pointer towards visual targets located in the fronto-parallel plane at different distances to the right of the starting position. LEDs mounted on the tip of the pointer were used to provide true or erroneous visual feedback about hand position. In some trials, either the target or the pointer LED that signalled the actual hand position were shifted 4.5 cm to the left or to the right, during the ocular saccade towards the target. Because of saccadic suppression, subjects did not perceive these displacements which occurred near arm movement onset. The results showed that modifications of arm movement amplitude appeared on average 150 ms earlier and reached a greater extent (mean difference=2.7 cm) when there was a change of target position than when a change of the seen hand position occurred. These findings highlight the weight of target position information to the online control of arm movements. Visual information relative to hand position may be less contributive because proprioception also provides information about limb position.