Research Article

Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 173, Issue 4, pp 742-750

First online:

Visual angle is the critical variable mediating gain-related effects in manual control

  • David E. VaillancourtAffiliated withDepartments of Movement Sciences (M/C 994), Bioengineering, and Neurology, University of Illinois at Chicago Email author 
  • , Pamela S. HaibachAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University
  • , Karl M. NewellAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University

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Abstract

Theoretically visual gain has been identified as a control variable in models of isometric force. However, visual gain is typically confounded with visual angle and distance, and the relative contribution of visual gain, distance, and angle to the control of force remains unclear. This study manipulated visual gain, distance, and angle in three experiments to examine the visual information properties used to regulate the control of a constant level of isometric force. Young adults performed a flexion motion of the index finger of the dominant hand in 20 s trials under a range of parameter values of the three visual variables. The findings demonstrate that the amount and structure of the force fluctuations were organized around the variable of visual angle, rather than gain or distance. Furthermore, the amount and structure of the force fluctuations changed considerably up to 1°, with little change higher than a 1° visual angle. Visual angle is the critical informational variable for the visuomotor system during the control of isometric force.