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Impact of task difficulty on gaze behavior in a sequential object manipulation task


Task difficulty affects both gaze behavior and hand movements. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate how task difficulty modulates gaze behaviour with respect to the balance between visually monitoring the ongoing action and prospectively collecting visual information about the future course of the ongoing action. For this, we examined sequences of reach and transport movements of water glasses that differed in task difficulty using glasses filled to different levels. Participants had to grasp water glasses with different filling levels (100, 94, 88, 82, and 76%) and transport them to a target. Subsequently, they had to grasp the next water glass and transport it to a target on the opposite side. Results showed significant differences in both gaze and movement kinematics for higher filling levels. However, there were no relevant differences between the 88, 82, and 76% filling levels. Results revealed a significant influence of task difficulty on the interaction between gaze and kinematics during transport and a strong influence of task difficulty on gaze during the release phase between different grasp-to-place movements. In summary, we found a movement and gaze pattern revealing an influence of task difficulty that was especially evident for the later phases of transport and release.

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This research was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) funded Collaborative Research Center on “Cardinal Mechanisms of Perception” (SFB-TRR 135).

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Correspondence to Johannes Kurz.

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Kurz, J., Hegele, M., Reiser, M. et al. Impact of task difficulty on gaze behavior in a sequential object manipulation task. Exp Brain Res 235, 3479–3486 (2017).

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  • Reach–to–grasp
  • Placing movements
  • Task difficulty
  • Gaze behavior
  • Movement kinematics