Accuracy of planar reaching movements. II. Systematic extent errors resulting from inertial anisotropy

Exp Brain Res. 1994;99(1):112-30. doi: 10.1007/BF00241416.


This study examines the source of direction-dependent errors in movement extent made by human subjects in a reaching task. As in the preceding study, subjects were to move a cursor on a digitizing tablet to targets displayed on a computer monitor. Movements were made without concurrent visual feedback of cursor position, but movement paths were displayed on the monitor after the completion of each movement. We first examined horizontal hand movements made at waist level with the upper arm in a vertical orientation. Targets were located at five distances and two directions (30 degrees and 150 degrees) from one of two initial positions. Trajectory shapes were stereotyped, and movements to more distant targets had larger accelerations and velocities. Comparison of movements in the two directions showed that in the 30 degrees direction responses were hypermetric, accelerations and velocities were larger, and movement times were shorter. Since movements in the 30 degrees direction required less motion of the upper arm than movements in the 150 degrees direction, we hypothesized that the differences in accuracy and acceleration reflected a failure to take into account the difference in total limb inertia in the two directions. To test this hypothesis we simulated the initial accelerations of a two-segment limb moving in the horizontal plane with the hand at shoulder level when a constant force was applied at the hand in each of 24 directions. We compared these simulated accelerations to ones produced by our subjects with their arms in the same position when they aimed movements to targets in the 24 directions and at equal distances from an initial position. The magnitudes of both simulated and actual accelerations were greatest in the two directions perpendicular to the forearm, where inertial resistance is least, and lowest for movements directed along the axis of the forearm. In all subjects, the directional variation in peak acceleration was similar to that predicted by the model and shifted in the same way when the initial position of the hand was displaced. The pattern of direction-dependent variations in initial acceleration did not depend on the speed of movement. It was also unchanged when subjects aimed their movements toward targets presented within the workspace on the tablet instead of on the computer monitor. These findings indicate that, in programming the magnitude of the initial force that will accelerate the hand, subjects do not fully compensate for direction dependent differences in inertial resistance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Female
  • Forearm / innervation
  • Forearm / physiology
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Proprioception / physiology