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Otmar Bock, Charles Worringham, and Sandi Dawson

Previous work has shown that amplitude and direction are two independently controlled parameters of aimed arm movements, and performance, therefore, suffers when they must be decomposed into Cartesian coordinates. We now compare decomposition into different coordinate systems. Subjects pointed at visual targets in 2-D with a cursor, using a two-axis joystick or two single-axis joysticks. In the latter case, joystick axes were aligned with the subjects’ body axes, were rotated by −45°, or were oblique (i.e., one axis was in an egocentric frame and the other was rotated by −45°). Cursor direction always corresponded to joystick direction. We found that compared with the two-axis joystick, responses with single-axis joysticks were slower and less accurate when the axes were oriented egocentrically; the deficit was even more pronounced when the axes were rotated and was most pronounced when they were oblique. This confirms that decomposition of motor commands is computationally demanding and documents that this demand is lowest for egocentric, higher for rotated, and highest for oblique coordinates. We conclude that most current vehicles use computationally demanding man–machine interfaces.