Origins of submovements during pointing movements

Laetitia Fradet, Gyusung Lee, Natalia Dounskaia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Submovements that are frequently observed in the final portion of pointing movements have traditionally been viewed as pointing accuracy adjustments. Here we re-examine this long-lasting interpretation by developing evidence that many of submovements may be non-corrective fluctuations arising from various sources of motor output variability. In particular, non-corrective submovements may emerge during motion termination and during motion of low speed. The contribution of these factors and the factor of accuracy regulation in submovement production is investigated here by manipulating movement mode (discrete, reciprocal, and passing) and target size (small and large). The three modes provided different temporal combinations of accuracy regulation and motion termination, thus allowing us to disentangle submovements associated with each factor. The target size manipulations further emphasized the role of accuracy regulation and provided variations in movement speed. Gross and fine submovements were distinguished based on the degree of perturbation of smooth motion. It was found that gross submovements were predominantly related to motion termination and not to pointing accuracy regulation. Although fine submovements were more frequent during movements to small than to large targets, other results show that they may also be not corrective submovements but rather motion fluctuations attributed to decreases in movement speed accompanying decreases in target size. Together, the findings challenge the traditional interpretation, suggesting that the majority of submovements are fluctuations emerging from mechanical and neural sources of motion variability. The implications of the findings for the mechanisms responsible for accurate target achievement are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalActa psychologica
Volume129
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Keywords

  • Accuracy
  • Arm kinematics
  • Continuous
  • Discrete
  • Variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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