Planning and on-line control of catching as a function of perceptual-motor constraints

L. Mazyn, G.J.P. Savelsbergh, G. Montagne, M. Lenoir

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Two experiments were conducted in order to investigate the adaptability and associated strategies of the human perceptuo-motor system to deal with changing constraints. In a catching task, perceptual-motor constraints were internally controlled by coupling movement onset of the catch and the illumination circuit in the lab: upon the first movement of the catcher, all lights went out within 3 ms. The authors studied (a) how much movement time catchers prefer if no visual information is available after movement onset, and (b) how movement execution changes under such temporal constraints. It was hypothesised that, in order to accomplish successful catching behaviour, (1) movement initiation would be postponed in order to allow sufficient information uptake before the lights went out, and (2) an alternative control strategy would have to be mobilised, since on-line control becomes inappropriate when catching in the dark. In the first experiment, the adaptation process to the light-dark paradigm was investigated. In the second experiment, the conclusions from experiment 1 were challenged under varying ball speeds. In order to maintain catching performance, subjects initiated the catch approximately 280 ms before ball-hand contact. Next to changes in temporal structure of the catch and subtle kinematic adaptations, evidence for a change in the control mode emerged: while an on-line control strategy was adopted under normal illumination, catching movements seemed to be executed as planned in advance when catching in the dark. Additionally, perceptual constraints seem to determine the time of movement initiation, rather than motor constraints. These results emphasize the capability of the human perceptuo-motor system to adjust promptly to new task constraints. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-78
    JournalActa Psychologica
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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