Visual and musculoskeletal underpinnings of anchoring in rhythmic visuo-motor tracking

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    Anchoring, that is, a local reduction in kinematic (i.e., spatio-temporal) variability, is commonly observed in cyclical movements, often at or around reversal points. Two kinds of underpinnings of anchoring have been identified - visual and musculoskeletal - yet their relative contributions and interrelations are largely unknown. We conducted an experiment to delineate the effects of visual and musculoskeletal factors on anchoring behavior in visuo-motor tracking. Thirteen participants (reduced to 12 in the analyses) tracked a sinusoidally moving visual target signal by making flexion-extension movements about the wrist, while both visual (i.e., gaze direction) and musculoskeletal (i.e., wrist posture) factors were manipulated in a fully crossed (3 x 3) design. Anchoring was affected by both factors in the absence of any significant interactions, implying that their contributions were independent. When gaze was directed to one of the target turning points, spatial endpoint variability at this point was reduced, but not temporal endpoint variability. With the wrist in a flexed posture, spatial and temporal endpoint variability were both smaller for the flexion endpoint than for the extension endpoint, while the converse was true for tracking with the wrist extended. Differential anchoring effects were absent for a neutral wrist posture and when gaze was fixated in between the two target turning points. Detailed analyses of the tracking trajectories in terms of velocity profiles and Hooke's portraits showed that the tracking dynamics were affected more by wrist posture than by gaze direction. The discussion focuses on the processes underlying the observed independent effects of gaze direction and wrist posture on anchoring as well as their implications for the notion of anchoring as a generic feature of sensorimotor coordination. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-156
    JournalExperimental Brain Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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