Hand path priming in manual obstacle avoidance: evidence that the dorsal stream does not only control visually guided actions in real time

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2007 Apr;33(2):425-41. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.33.2.425.


According to a prominent theory of human perception and performance (M. A. Goodale & A. D. Milner, 1992), the dorsal, action-related stream only controls visually guided actions in real time. Such a system would be predicted to show little or no action priming from previous experience. The 3 experiments reported here were designed to determine whether priming exists for visually guiding the hand to targets with obstacles sometimes in the way. In all 3 experiments, priming was observed in the curvature of hand paths. Hand paths when no obstacles were present were more curved if obstacles had recently appeared than if obstacles had not recently appeared. The results also show that hand path priming was not the result of active prediction, persisted for many trials, and generalized over the workspace. The times to initiate movements also reflected the use of a sophisticated visual search strategy that took obstacle likelihood into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception*