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Hitting moving targets: Using the target's direction of motion


Brouwer,  A
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Brouwer, A., Middelburg T, Smeets, J., & Brenner, E. (2003). Hitting moving targets: Using the target's direction of motion. Poster presented at 6. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2003), Tübingen, Germany.

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Previous work indicated that people do not use the speed at which a target is perceived to move to determine where to hit it. Instead, they use the target's changing position and an expected speed (based on the speed of previous targets). In the present study we investigate whether people also ignore the target's perceived direction of motion, and use the target's changing position and an expected movement direction instead. Subjects hit targets that moved in slightly dierent directions across a screen. Sometimes the targets disappeared after 150 ms, long before the subjects could reach the screen. This prevented subjects from using the target's changing position to adjust their movements, making it possible to evaluate whether subjects were relying on the perceived or an expected (average) direction to guide their movements. The background also moved in some trials. This in uences the target's perceived movement direction while leaving its perceived position unaected. When the background was stationary, subjects did not hit disappearing targets fundamentally dierently than the ones that remained visible. The moving background aected the direction in which subjects started to move their hand, in accordance with the illusory change in direction of target motion. If the target remained visible, subjects corrected their initial error, presumably on the basis of information about the target's changing position. We conclude that in addition to the target's position, people use the target's perceived direction of motion when hitting moving targets. Thus the perceived direction of motion is treated dierently than the perceived speed.