Mechanisms underlying the generation of averaged modified trajectories
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In this work we have studied what mechanisms might possibly underlie arm trajectory modification when reaching toward visual targets. The double-step target displacement paradigm was used with inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs) in the range of 10–300 ms. For short ISIs, a high percentage of the movements were found to be initially directed in between the first and second target locations (averaged trajectories). The initial direction of motion was found to depend on the target configuration, and on D: the time difference between the presentation of the second stimulus and movement onset. To account for the kinematic features of the averaged trajectories two modification schemes were compared: the superposition scheme and the abort-replan scheme. According to the superposition scheme, the modified trajectories result from the vectorial addition of two elemental motions: one for moving between the initial hand position and an intermediate location, and a second one for moving between that intermediate location and the final target. According to the abort-replan scheme, the initial plan for moving toward the intermediate location is aborted and smoothly replaced by a new plan for moving from the hand position at the time the trajectory is modified to the final target location. In both tested schemes we hypothesized that due to the quick displacement of the stimulus, the internally specified intermediate goal might be influenced by both stimuli and may be different from the location of the first stimulus. It was found that the statistically most successful model in accounting for the measured data is based on the superposition scheme. It is suggested that superposition of simple independent elemental motions might be a general principle for the generation of modified motions, which allows for efficient, parallel planning. For increasing values of D the inferred locations of the intermediate targets were found to gradually shift from the first toward the second target locations along a path that curved toward the initial hand position. These inferred locations show a strong resemblance to the intermediate locations of saccades generated in a similar double-step paradigm. These similarities in the specification of target locations used in the generation of eye and hand movements may serve to simplify visuomotor integration.
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