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Vision Res. 2005 Mar;45(5):533-50.

Two wrongs make a right: linear increase of accuracy of visually-guided manual pointing, reaching, and height-matching with increase in hand-to-body distance.

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Clarence H. Graham Memorial Laboratory of Visual Science, Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Measurements were made of the accuracy of open-loop manual pointing and height-matching to a visual target whose elevation was perceptually mislocalized. Accuracy increased linearly with distance of the hand from the body, approaching complete accuracy at full extension; with the hand close to the body (within the midfrontal plane), the manual errors equaled the magnitude of the perceptual mislocalization. The visual inducing stimulus responsible for the perceptual errors was a single pitched-from-vertical line that was long (50 degrees), eccentrically-located (25 degrees horizontal), and viewed in otherwise total darkness. The line induced perceptual errors in the elevation of a small, circular visual target set to appear at eye level (VPEL), a setting that changed linearly with the change in the line's visual pitch as has been previously reported (pitch: -30 degrees topbackward to 30 degrees topforward); the elevation errors measured by VPEL settings varied systematically with pitch through an 18 degrees range. In a fourth experiment the visual inducing stimulus responsible for the perceptual errors was shown to induce separately-measured errors in the manual setting of the arm to feel horizontal that were also distance-dependent. The distance-dependence of the visually-induced changes in felt arm position accounts quantitatively for the distance-dependence of the manual errors in pointing/reaching and height matching to the visual target: The near equality of the changes in felt horizontal and changes in pointing/reaching with the finger at the end of the fully extended arm is responsible for the manual accuracy of the fully-extended point; with the finger in the midfrontal plane their large difference is responsible for the inaccuracies of the midfrontal-plane point. The results are inconsistent with the widely-held but controversial theory that visual spatial information employed for perception and action are dissociated and different with no illusory visual influence on action. A different two-system theory, the Proximal/Distal model, employing the same signals from vision and from the body-referenced mechanism with different weights for different hand-to-body distances, accounts for both the perceptual and the manual results in the present experiments.

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