Optimizing rapid aiming behaviour: movement kinematics depend on the cost of corrective modifications
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Recent studies have shown that the initial impulse associated with goal-directed aiming movements typically brings the limb to a position short of the target. This is because target overshooting is associated with greater temporal and energy costs than target undershooting. Presumably these costs can be expected to vary not only with the muscular forces required to move the limb, but also the gravitational forces inherent in the aiming task. In this study we examined the degree to which primary movement endpoint distributions depend on the direction of the movement with respect to gravity. We hypothesized that the magnitude of an undershoot bias would be greatest for downward movements because target overshooting necessitates a time and energy consuming movement reversal against gravity. Participants completed rapid aiming movements toward targets located above and below, as well as proximal and distal to a central home position. Movements were made both with and without additional mass attached to the limb. Although movement time did not vary with experimental condition, primary movement endpoint distributions were consistent with our predictions. Specifically, both greater undershooting and greater endpoint variability was associated with downward aiming movements. As well, a greater proportion of the overall movement time was spent in the corrective phase of the movement. These results are consistent with models of energy minimization that posit an inherent efficiency of control and hold that movements are organized to minimize movement time and energy expenditure and maximize mechanical advantages.
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