Spatial Coupling in the Coordination of Complex Actions

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The majority of investigations on coordinated action have focused on temporal constraints in movements. Recent studies have demonstrated spatial constraints when the hands produce different trajectory shapes simultaneously. The focus of the current study was to determine whether spatial coupling occurs in individual parameters of the actions, or whether the shapes per se undergo accommodation. Subjects were tested on a bimanual paradigm to investigate the nature of spatial constraints in complex tasks. Shape and size of the required trajectories were varied for the two limbs. When trajectories that require different shapes were assigned to the two hands,disruption in the spatial characteristics of the trajectories was observed. Disruption in the global patterns of the trajectories could be described on the basis of coupling in individual parameters of action, direction, and amplitude, which could be inferred by decomposing the trajectories into orthogonal components. Amplitude accommodation in these orthogonal components of motion increased linearly with the difference in required amplitude for the two limbs. Interpretations of these effects suggest that directional coupling is a result of interference between two different response plans, whereas amplitude coupling may be related to either planning or execution variables. These results strongly suggest the need for further investigation of the spatial domain of complex coordinated action.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 1997

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