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The proximity of visual landmarks impacts reaching performance

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

The control of goal-directed reaching movements is thought to rely upon egocentric visual information derived from the visuomotor networks of the dorsal visual pathway. However, recent research (Krigolson and Heath, 2004) suggests it is also possible to make allocentric comparisons between a visual background and a target object to facilitate reaching accuracy. Here we sought to determine if the effectiveness of these allocentric comparisons is reduced as distance between a visual background and a target object increases. To accomplish this, participants completed memory-guided reaching movements to targets presented in an otherwise empty visual background or positioned within a proximal, medial, or distal visual background. Our results indicated that the availability of a proximal or medial visual background reduced endpoint variability relative to reaches made without a visual background. Interestingly, we found that endpoint variability was not reduced when participants reached to targets framed within a distal visual background. Such findings suggest that allocentric visual information is used to facilitate reaching performance; however, the fidelity by which such cues are used appears linked to the proximity of veridical target location. Importantly, these data also suggest that information from both the dorsal and ventral visual streams can be integrated to facilitate the online control of reaching movements.

Affiliations: 1: School of Physical Education, University of Victoria, PO Box 3015, STN CSC Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 3P1; 2: College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Canada; 3: School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario, Canada


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