Learning a visuomotor transformation in a local area of work space produces directional biases in other areas

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jun;73(6):2535-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.73.6.2535.


1. The dependence of directional biases in reaching movements on the initial position of the hand was studied in normal human subjects moving their unseen hand on a horizontal digitizing tablet to visual targets displayed on a vertical computer screen. 2. When initial hand positions were to the right of midline, movements were systematically biased clockwise. Biases were counterclockwise for starting points to the left. Biases were unaffected by the screen location of the starting and target positions. 3. Vision of the hand in relation to the target before movement, as well as practice with vision of the cursor during the movement, temporarily eliminated these biases. The spatial organization of the biases suggests that, without vision of the limb, the nervous system underestimates the distance of the hand from an axis or plane that includes its most common operating location. 4. To test the hypothesis that such an underestimate might represent an adaptation to a local area of work space or range effect, subjects were trained to reach accurately from right or left positions. After training, movements initiated from other locations, including ones that were previously error free, showed new biases that again represented underestimates of the distance of the initial hand position from the new trained location. 5. We conclude that hand path planning is dependent on learned representations of the location of the hand in the work space.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*