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Steve Hansen, Digby Elliott, and Michael A. Khan

The utility of ellipsoids for quantifying central tendency and variability throughout the trajectory of goal-directed movements is described. Aiming movements were measured over 2 days of practice and under full-vision and no-vision conditions. A three-dimensional optoelectronic system measured the movements. Individual ellipsoid locations, dimensions, and volumes were derived from the average location and the spatial variability of the effector’s trajectory at proportional temporal periods throughout the movement. Changes in ellipsoid volume over time illustrate the evolution in motor control that occurred with practice and the processes associated with visual control. This technique has the potential to extend our understanding of limb control and can be applied to practical problems such as equipment design and evaluation of movement rehabilitation.

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Steve Hansen, Spencer J. Hayes, and Simon J. Bennett

The current study examined the effect of interocular delay in a manual aiming task that required accurate end-point placement, but not precise control of a grip aperture. Participants aimed in binocular, monocular, or alternating monocular vision conditions. For the latter, 25ms monocular samples were provided to alternate eyes without delay (0ms), or a delay of 25 or 50ms. The interocular delay resulted in a longer movement time, caused by a longer time-to-peak and time-after-peak velocity, and a reduction in peak velocity. We suggest that the change in kinematics reflect a strategic response to preserve terminal aiming accuracy and variability when faced with an informational perturbation. These findings indicate that the response to the interocular delay between alternating monocular samples depends on the task-specific information used to control that behavior.

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Steve Hansen, James L. Lyons, and Katherine M. Keetch

This study examined the performance of the upper limbs during responses to previously cued and un-cued locations. Participants made unimanual and bimanual responses under homologous and non-homologous muscular control, within a cuetarget (Experiment 1; n = 10), and a target-target (Experiment 2; n = 10) aiming protocol. The inhibition of return (IOR) to a target location was expected to increase with (a) an increase in the organization of the movement response required, and (b) the decrease in the muscular coupling under which the bimanual movement was performed. IOR was observed in both experiments when participants completed their movements in either the unimanual or homologous conditions, but not in the non-homologous condition. In addition, reaction times were significantly shorter when a movement preceded the response than when no manual response was made to the initial visual cue. The results indicate that common processing delays in response to exogenously cued targets are dependent on the muscular control of those responses. Thus, this study provides evidence that IOR is moderated by the muscular control under which the bimanual movement was performed indicating an influential involvement of the motor system in both the movement planning and movement response to multiple target stimuli.

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Digby Elliott, Timothy N. Welsh, James Lyons, Steve Hansen, and Melinda Wu

Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic disorder that causes general cognitive and developmental delays. Compared to persons with Down syndrome (DS) at the same developmental level, individuals with WS generally exhibit superior expressive language abilities, but have difficultly with tasks that require the visual control of movement. Recently it has been suggested that this latter problem reflects a deficit in dorsal stream function. In the present study, this hypothesis was investigated by examining the kinematics of rapid aiming movements. The performance of the participants with WS (n = 4) was compared to the performance of participants with DS (n = 8), with undifferentiated developmental delays (n = 8), and from the general population (n = 8). In partial support of the dorsal deficit hypothesis, the results suggest that, compared to people from the other groups, the participants with WS had difficulty in preparing their movements on the basis of the visual and other information available to them. This was particularly evident in their inability to properly scale movement velocities to the amplitude of the movements and in the number of discrete corrections made during movement execution.

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Steve Hansen, Bridget Sheahan, Melinda Wu, James Lyons, Timothy N. Welsh, and Digby Elliott

Adults with Down syndrome (DS), an undifferentiated developmental delay (UnD) and no developmental delay practiced a manual target aiming task either with or without on-line visual feedback. Following acquisition, participants performed a retention test involving the same sensory condition available during practice, followed by a transfer test under the other sensory condition. Although the participants with UnD were highly dependent on visual feedback for movement accuracy, participants with DS relied more on either kinesthetic feedback or feedforward control for spatial precision. Participants in all three groups improved their movement times with practice. This improvement was associated both with an increase in peak velocity and a reduction in the time required to decelerate their aiming movements. Contrary to our expectations, improvements in performance were not specific to the sensory conditions available during practice.