Muscle responses to mechanical disturbances exhibit two distinct phases: a response starting at ~20 ms that is fairly stereotyped, and a response starting at ~60 ms modulated by many behavioral contexts including goal-redundancy and environmental obstacles. Muscle responses to disturbances of visual feedback of the hand arise within ~90 ms. However, little is known whether these muscle responses are sensitive to behavioral contexts. We had 49 human participants (27 male) execute goal-directed reaches with visual feedback of their hand presented as a cursor. On random trials, the cursor jumped laterally to the reach direction, and thus, required a correction to attain the goal. The first experiment demonstrated that the response amplitude starting at 90 ms scaled with jump magnitude, but only for jumps <2 cm. For larger jumps, the duration of the muscle response scaled with the jump size starting after 120 ms. The second experiment demonstrated that the early response was sensitive to goal redundancy as wider targets evoked a smaller corrective response. The third experiment demonstrated that the early response did not consider the presence of obstacles, as this response routinely drove participants directly to the goal even though this path was blocked by an obstacle. Instead, the appropriate muscle response to navigate around the obstacle started after 120 ms. Our findings highlight that visual feedback of the limb involves two distinct phases: a response starting at 90 ms with limited sensitivity to jump magnitude and sensitive to goal-redundancy, and a response starting at 120 ms with increased sensitivity to jump magnitude and environmental factors.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The motor system can integrate proprioceptive feedback to guide an ongoing action in ~60 ms and is flexible to a broad range of behavioral contexts. In contrast, the present study identified that the motor response to a visual disturbance exhibits two distinct phases: an early response starting at 90 ms with limited scaling with disturbance size and sensitivity to goal-redundancy, and a slower response starting after 120 ms with increased sensitivity to disturbance size and sensitive to environmental obstacles. These data suggest visual feedback of the hand is processed through two distinct feedback processes.
Keywords: feedback control; goal-directed corrections; human; reaching; task constraints; visual processing.
Copyright © 2019 the authors.