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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 12, pp 3181–3190 | Cite as

Keeping your eye on the target: eye–hand coordination in a repetitive Fitts’ task

  • S. de Vries
  • R. Huys
  • P. G. Zanone
Research Article

Abstract

In a cyclical Fitts’ task, hand movements transition from continuous to discrete movements when the Index of Difficulty (ID) increases. Moreover, at high ID (small target), the eyes saccade to and subsequently fixate the targets at every movement, while at low ID (large target) intermittent monitoring is used. By hypothesis, the (periodic) gaze shifts are abandoned for movement times shorter than about 0.350 s due to systemic constraints (i.e., a refractory period and intrinsic latency). If so, the transition in eye and hand movements is independent. To investigate these issues, the present study examined the effects of changing ID via the targets’ width or distance as well as hysteresis in eye–hand coordination. To this aim, 14 participants performed a cyclical Fitts’ task while their hand and eye movements were recorded simultaneously. The results show that the transition in eye–hand synchronization (at 2.87 bit; 0.25 s) and in hand dynamics (at 4.85 bit; 0.81 s) neither co-occurred nor correlated. Some small width vs. distance dissociations and hysteresis effects were found, but they disappeared when eye–hand synchronization was viewed as a function of movement time rather than ID. This confirms that a minimal between-saccade time is the limiting factor in eye–hand synchronization. Additionally, the timing between the start of the hand movement and the saccade appeared to be relatively constant (at 0.15 s) and independent of movement time, implying a constant delay that should be implemented in a dynamical model of eye–hand coordination.

Keywords

Fitts’ task Coordination Eye–hand Synchronization Cyclical movement Gaze behavior 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicting interests.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center GroningenUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Université de Toulouse, UMR 5549 CERCO (Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition), UPS, CNRS, Pavillon Baudot CHU PurpanToulouseFrance

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