Fast responses of the human hand to changes in target position

Eli Brenner*, Jeroen B J Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


If a target toward which an individual moves his hand suddenly moves, he adjusts the movement of his hand accordingly. Does he use visual information on the target's velocity to anticipate where he will reach the target? These questions were addressed in the present study. Subjects (N = 6 in each of 4 experiments) were instructed to hit a disk with a rod as soon as it appeared on a screen. Trajectories of the hand toward stationary disks were compared with those toward disks that jumped leftward or rightward as soon as the subject's hand started moving toward the screen, and with those in which either the disk or the background started moving leftward or rightward. About 110 ms after the disk was suddenly displaced, the moving hand was diverted in the direction of the perturbation. When the background moved, the disk's perceived position shifted in the direction in which the background was moving, but the disk appeared to be moving in the opposite direction. When hitting such disks, subjects adjusted their movement in accordance with the perceived position, rather than moving their hand in the direction of the perceived motion in anticipation of the disk's future displacement. Thus, subjects did not use the perceived velocity to anticipate where they would reach the target but responded only to the change in position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • Arm movement
  • Motor control
  • Reaction time
  • Spatial vision


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