Aiming error under transformed spatial mappings suggests a structure for visual-motor maps

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1989 Aug;15(3):493-506. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.15.3.493.


Transformed spatial mappings were used to perturb normal visual-motor processes and reveal the structure of internal spatial representations used by the motor control system. In a 2-D discrete aiming task performed under rotated visual-motor mappings, the pattern of spatial movement error was the same for all Ss: peak error between 90 degrees and 135 degrees of rotation and low error for 180 degrees rotation. A two-component spatial representation, based on oriented bidirectional movement axes plus direction of travel along such axes, is hypothesized. Observed reversals of movement direction under rotations greater than 90 degrees are consistent with the hypothesized structure. Aiming error under reflections, unlike rotations, depended on direction of movement relative to the axis of reflection (see Cunningham & Pavel, in press). Reaction time and movement time effects were observed, but a speed-accuracy tradeoff was found only for rotations for which the direction-reversal strategy could be used. Finally, adaptation to rotation operates at all target locations equally but does not alter the relative difficulty of different rotations. Structural properties of the representation are invariant under learning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Association Learning
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception*