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Hum Mov Sci. 2002 Sep;21(3):349-76.

Coordinated control of eye and hand movements in dynamic reaching.

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Department of Psychonomics, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands.


In the present study, we integrated two recent, at first sight contradictory findings regarding the question whether saccadic eye movements can be generated to a newly presented target during an ongoing hand movement. Saccades were measured during so-called adaptive and sustained pointing conditions. In the adapted pointing condition, subjects had to direct both their gaze and arm movements to a displaced target location. The results showed that the eyes could fixate the new target during pointing. In addition, a temporal coupling of these corrective saccades was found with changes in arm movement trajectories when reaching to the new target. In the sustained pointing condition, however, the same subjects had to point to the initial target, while trying to deviate their gaze to a new target that appeared during pointing. It was found that the eyes could not fixate the new target before the hand reached the initial target location. Together, the results indicate that ocular gaze is always forced to follow the target intended by a manual arm movement. A neural mechanism is proposed that couples ocular gaze to the target of an arm movement. Specifically, the mechanism includes a reach neuron layer besides the well-known saccadic layer in the primate superior colliculus. Such a tight, sub-cortical coupling of ocular gaze to the target of a reaching movement can explain the contrasting behavior of the eyes in dependency of whether the eye and hand share the same target position or attempt to move to different locations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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