Effects of displacement and trajectory length on the variability pattern of reaching movements

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Jaric, S.
Ferreira, SMS
Tortoza, C.
Marconi, N. F.
Almeida, G. L.

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Heldref Publications


The design of the present study enabled the authors to distinguish between the possible effects of movement displacement and trajectory length on the pattern of final positions of planar reaching movements. With their eyes closed, 9 subjects performed series of fast and accurate movements from different initial positions to the same target. For some series, the movements were unconstrained and were therefore performed along an approximately straight vertical line. For other series, an obstacle was positioned so that trajectory length was increased because of an increase in movement curvature. Ellipses of variability obtained by means of principal component analysis applied to the scatter of movement final positions enabled the authors to assess the pattern of movement variable errors. The results showed that the orientation of the ellipses was not affected by movement displacement or by trajectory length, whereas variable errors increased with move ment displacement. An increase in trajectory length as a consequence of increased curvature caused no change in variable error. From the perspective of current motor control theory, that finding was quite unexpected. Further studies are required so that one can distinguish among the possible effects of various kinematics, kinetics, and other variables that could affect the pattern of variable errors of reaching movements.



displacement, error, human, reaching movements, trajectory length

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Journal of Motor Behavior. Washington: Heldref Publications, v. 31, n. 4, p. 303-308, 1999.