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J Mot Behav. 2003 Mar;35(1):64-78.

Effects of visual information and task constraints on intersegmental coordination in playground swinging.

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  • 1Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The authors investigated how and to what extent visual information and associated task constraints are negotiated in the coordinative structure of playground swinging. Participants (N = 20) were invited to pump a swing from rest to a prescribed maximal amplitude under 4 conditions: normal vision, no vision, and 2 visual conditions involving explicit phasing constraints. In the latter conditions, participants were presented with a flow pattern consisting of a periodically expanding and contracting optical structure. They were instructed to phase the swing motion so that the forward turning point coincided with either the maximal size (enhanced optical flow) or the minimal size (reduced optical flow) of the presented flow pattern. Removal of visual information clearly influenced the swinging behavior, in that intersegmental coordination became more stereotyped, reflecting a general stiffening of the swinger. The conditions involving explicit phasing requirements also affected the coordination, but in an opposite way: The coordination became less stereotyped. The two phasing instructions had differential effects: The intersegmental coordination deviated more from normal swinging (i.e., without phasing constraints) when optical flow was enhanced than when it was reduced. Collectively, those findings show that visual information plays a formative role in the coordinative structure of swinging, in that variations of visual information and task constraints were accompanied by subtle yet noticeable changes in intersegmental coordination.

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