The multiple process model of goal-directed aiming/reaching: insights on limb control from various special populations

Exp Brain Res. 2020 Dec;238(12):2685-2699. doi: 10.1007/s00221-020-05952-2. Epub 2020 Oct 20.


Several years ago, our research group forwarded a model of goal-directed reaching and aiming that describes the processes involved in the optimization of speed, accuracy, and energy expenditure Elliott et al. (Psychol Bull 136:1023-1044, 2010). One of the main features of the model is the distinction between early impulse control, which is based on a comparison of expected to perceived sensory consequences, and late limb-target control that involves a spatial comparison of limb and target position. Our model also emphasizes the importance of strategic behaviors that limit the opportunity for worst-case or inefficient outcomes. In the 2010 paper, we included a section on how our model can be used to understand atypical aiming/reaching movements in a number of special populations. In light of a recent empirical and theoretical update of our model Elliott et al. (Neurosci Biobehav Rev 72:95-110, 2017), here we consider contemporary motor control work involving typical aging, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and tetraplegia with tendon-transfer surgery. We outline how atypical limb control can be viewed within the context of the multiple-process model of goal-directed reaching and aiming, and discuss the underlying perceptual-motor impairment that results in the adaptive solution developed by the specific group.

Keywords: Aging; Autism; Down syndrome; Limb control; Speed-accuracy; Tetraplegia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Extremities
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Movement
  • Psychomotor Performance