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Modulation of Anticipatory Postural Adjustments in a Complex Task under Different Temporal Constraints

Nabil Ilmane and Jacques LaRue

The aim of this experiment was to explore the behavioral effects of various temporal pressures on the anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) in a complex task. Eighteen handball players performed a handball direct throw in three conditions of temporal pressure: (1) a reactive condition (RC), the throw was initiated as quickly as possible following a visual stimulus; (2) an anticipation-coincidence condition (AC), by synchronizing the impact of the ball with the passage of a visual mobile on a target; and (3) a self-initiated (SI) throw. The whole-body postural oscillation and the acceleration of the wrist were measured before and during the throwing action. Results showed that the delays between the onsets of the postural and focal activities were significantly different between RC and both the SI and the AC conditions. Movement time, time to peaks (negative and positive), are shorter in the RC, intermediate in the AC, and longer in the SI condition. Variability was significantly larger in AC in comparison with RC and SI. These results support the existence of different control modes triggered by the temporal pressure; they demonstrate that these control modes can be generalized to complex intentional movements such as the throwing skill and to an anticipation-coincidence situation.