Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 195, Issue 4, pp 611–620 | Cite as

Manual and oculomotor performance develop contemporaneously but independently during continuous tracking

  • Eric D. Vidoni
  • Jason S. McCarley
  • Jodi D. Edwards
  • Lara A. Boyd
Research Article


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.


Visual motor coordination Learning Motor skills 



We appreciate the helpful comments of Jeff Radel and Robyn Honea and the thoughtful and constructive reviewers of the manuscript. Funding was provided by start-up monies from the University of Kansas Medical Center awarded to LAB.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric D. Vidoni
    • 1
  • Jason S. McCarley
    • 2
  • Jodi D. Edwards
    • 3
  • Lara A. Boyd
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyUniversity of Kansas Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.2251 Beckman Institute University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Graduate Program in EpidemiologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of Physical Therapy and Brain Research CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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