, Volume 195, Issue 4, pp 611-620
Date: 13 May 2009

Manual and oculomotor performance develop contemporaneously but independently during continuous tracking

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The coordination of the oculomotor and manual effector systems is an important component of daily motor behavior. Previous work has primarily examined oculomotor/manual coordination in discrete targeting tasks. Here we extend this work to learning a tracking task that requires continuous response and movement update. Over two sessions, participants practiced controlling a computer mouse with movements of their arm to follow a target moving in a repeated sequence. Eye movements were also recorded. In a retention test, participants demonstrated sequence-specific learning with both effector systems, but differences between effectors also were apparent. Time series analysis and multiple linear regression were employed to probe spatial and temporal contributions to overall tracking accuracy within each effector system. Sequence-specific oculomotor learning occurred only in the spatial domain. By contrast, sequence-specific learning at the arm was evident only in the temporal domain. There was minimal interdependence in error rates for the two effector systems, underscoring their independence during tracking. These findings suggest that the oculomotor and manual systems learn contemporaneously, but performance improvements manifest differently and rely on different elements of motor execution. The results may in part be a function of what the motor learning system values for each effector as a function of its effector’s inertial properties.