Information and action in punching a falling ball

Claire F. Michaels*, Edzard B. Zeinstra, Raôul R.D. Oudejans

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Lee, Young, Reddish, Lough, and Clayton (1983) reported that the timing control of jumping and vertically punching a dropping ball exploits the inverse of the rate of change of optical expansion, τ(r). We raise a number of methodological and logical criticisms against their experiment and conclusions and attempt to rectify them by examining elbow joint angles only, in seated punchers, under both monocular and binocular conditions, with two ball sizes, dropped from two heights. Differences between the binocular and monocular cases suggest the exploitation of different information. We present several techniques to help determine the operative variable(s) controlling the action. The optical variable used to initiate and guide flexion appeared to be expansion velocity (looming), rather than τ(r); extension appeared to be under the control of different variables in the monocular and binocular cases. Simulations using single variables and single perceptuo-motor intervals were of mixed success.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-93
    Number of pages25
    JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2001


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