Can we use peripheral vision to create a visuospatial map for compensatory reach-to-grasp reactions?
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Perturbation-induced reach-to-grasp reactions are dependent on vision to capture environmental features of potential support surfaces. Previous research proposed the use of an intrinsic visuospatial map of the environment to reduce delays in motor responses (e.g., stepping, grasping a handrail). Forming such a map from foveal vision would be challenging during movement as it would require constant foveal scanning. The objective of this study was to determine if compensatory reach-to-grasp reactions could be successfully executed while relying on a visuospatial map acquired using peripheral vision. Subjects were instructed to respond to a perturbation by grasping a handle randomly located at 0°, 20° or 40° in their field of view under three visual conditions: full vision throughout the entire trial (FV), vision available prior to perturbation only (MAP), and vision available post-perturbation only (ONLINE). Electromyography was used to determine reaction time and kinematic data were collected to determine initial reach angle. Overall, participants were successful in arresting whole-body motion across all visual conditions and handle locations. Initial reach angles were target specific when vision was available prior to perturbation onset (FV and MAP). However, the 40° handle location produced a greater initial reach angle in MAP, suggesting some limitations for mapping in the further visual periphery. These findings suggest that peripheral vision contributes to the ability to spatially locate targets by building an a priori visuospatial map, which benefits the control of rapid compensatory reach-to-grasp reactions evoked in the response to unpredictable events of instability.
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