Curvature in hand movements as a result of visual misjudgements of direction

Eli Brenner*, J. B J Smeets, H. C M Remijnse-Tamerius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The path that our hand takes when moving from one position to another is often slightly curved. Part of this curvature is caused by perceptual errors. We examine here whether this is so for the influence that a surface's orientation has on the approaching hand's path. When moving our hand towards a point on a surface we tend to follow a path that makes the final approach more orthogonal to the surface at that point. Doing so makes us less sensitive to imperfection in controlling our movements. Here we show that this tendency is also present when moving towards a point along an edge of a drawing of an oriented bar. The influence of the bar's orientation is no smaller when people are explicitly asked to move as straight as possible, than when they are instructed to move as fast as possible. The bar's orientation also influences perceptual judgements of a straight path, but this influence is only as large as it is on the curvature of the hand's path for judgements of the direction from the hand's initial position to the target. We conclude that the influence of the bar's orientation on the curvature of the hand's path is caused by a misperception of the initial direction in which the hand has to move to reach the target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-414
Number of pages22
JournalSpatial Vision
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Curvature
  • Human
  • Movements
  • Path
  • Perception and action


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