Measuring Prospective Motor Control in Action Development

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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This article critically reviews kinematic measures of prospective motor control. Prospective motor control, the ability to anticipatorily adjust movements with respect to task demands and action goals, is an important process involved in action planning. In manual object manipulation tasks, prospective motor control has been studied in various ways, mainly using motion tracking. For this matter, it is crucial to pinpoint the early part of the movement that purely reflects prospective (feed-forward) processes, but not feedback influences from the unfolding movement. One way of defining this period is to rely on a fixed time criterion; another is to base it flexibly on the inherent structure of each movement itself. Velocity—as one key characteristic of human movement—offers such a possibility and describes the structure of movements in a meaningful way. Here, I argue for the latter way of investigating prospective motor control by applying the measure of peak velocity of the first movement unit. I further discuss movement units and their significance in motor development of infants and contrast the introduced measure with other measures related to peak velocity and duration.

Gottwald is with the Department of Psychology, Durham University, Durham, UK.

Please address author correspondence to Janna Gottwald at janna.m.gottwald@durham.ac.uk.
Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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