Effects of Direction and Curvature on Variable Error Pattern of Reaching Movements

in Motor Control
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A number of studies have analyzed various indices of the final position variability in order to provide insight into different levels of neuromotor processing during reaching movements. Yet the possible effects of movement kinematics on variability have often been neglected. The present study was designed to test the effects of movement direction and curvature on the pattern of movement variable errors. Subjects performed series of reaching movements over the same distance and into the same target. However, due either to changes in starting position or to applied obstacles, the movements were performed in different directions or along the trajectories of different curvatures. The pattern of movement variable errors was assessed by means of the principal component analysis applied on the 2-D scatter of movement final positions. The orientation of these ellipses demonstrated changes associated with changes in both movement direction and curvature. However, neither movement direction nor movement curvature affected movement variable errors assessed by area of the ellipses. Therefore it was concluded that the end-point variability depends partly, but not exclusively, on movement kinematics.

Jaric is with the Institute for Medical Research, Belgrade 11000, Yugoslavia, and Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil; Fatarelli and Almeida are also with the Univ. Estadual de Campinas. Tortoza is with the Univ. Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil.