Direct visuomotor mapping for fast visually-evoked arm movements

Neuropsychologia. 2012 Dec;50(14):3169-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.10.006. Epub 2012 Oct 12.


In contrast to conventional reaction time (RT) tasks, saccadic RT's to visual targets are very fast and unaffected by the number of possible targets. This can be explained by the sub-cortical circuitry underlying eye movements, which involves direct mapping between retinal input and motor output in the superior colliculus. Here we asked if the choice-invariance established for the eyes also applies to a special class of fast visuomotor responses of the upper limb. Using a target-pointing paradigm we observed very fast reaction times (<150 ms) which were completely unaffected as the number of possible target choices was increased from 1 to 4. When we introduced a condition of altered stimulus-response mapping, RT went up and a cost of choice was observed. These results can be explained by direct mapping between visual input and motor output, compatible with a sub-cortical pathway for visual control of the upper limb.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology