, Volume 143, Issue 2, pp 198-211
Date: 08 Jan 2002

Hitting moving objects: is target speed used in guiding the hand?

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We investigated what information subjects use when trying to hit moving targets. In particular, whether only visual information about the target’s position is used to guide the hand to the place of interception or also information about its speed. Subjects hit targets that moved at different constant speeds and disappeared from view after varying amounts of time. This prevented the subjects from updating position information during the time that the target was invisible. Subjects hit further ahead of the disappearing point when the target moved faster, but not as much as they should have on the basis of the target’s speed. This could be because more time is needed to perceive and use the correct speed than was available before the target disappeared. It could also be due to a speed-related misperception of the target’s final position. The results of a second experiment were more consistent with the latter hypothesis. In a third experiment we moved the background to manipulate the perceived speed. This did not affect the hitting positions. We conclude that subjects respond only to the changing target position. Target speed influences the direction in which the hand moves indirectly, possibly via a speed-related misperception of position.