Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 164, Issue 3, pp 301–310 | Cite as

Multiple frames of reference for pointing to a remembered target

  • Martin LemayEmail author
  • George E. Stelmach
Research Article


Pointing with an unseen hand to a visual target that disappears prior to movement requires maintaining a memory representation about the target location. The target location can be transformed either into a hand-centered frame of reference during target presentation and remembered under that form, or remembered in terms of retinal and extra-retinal cues and transformed into a body-centered frame of reference before movement initiation. The main goal of the present study was to investigate whether the target is stored in memory in an eye-centered frame, a hand-centered frame or in both frames of reference concomitantly. The task was to locate, memorize, and point to a target in a dark environment. Hand movement was not visible. During the recall delay, participants were asked to move their hand or their eyes in order to disrupt the memory representation of the target. Movement of the eyes during the recall delay was expected to disrupt an eye-centered memory representation whereas movement of the hand was expected to disrupt a hand-centered memory representation by increasing movement variability to the target. Variability of movement amplitude and direction was examined. Results showed that participants were more variable on the directional component of the movement when required to move their hand during recall delay. On the contrary, moving the eyes caused an increase in variability only in the amplitude component of the pointing movement. Taken together, these results suggest that the direction of the movement is coded and remembered in a frame of reference linked to the arm, whereas the amplitude of the movement is remembered in an eye-centered frame of reference.


Target Pointing Memory Eye Hand 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Neuroscience CenterUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Motor Control LaboratoryArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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