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Percept Psychophys. 2005 Jan;67(1):129-49.

Hitting a moving target: perception and action in the timing of rapid interceptions.

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Perception and Motor Systems Laboratory, School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072, QSLD, Australia.


Different interceptive tasks and modes of interception (hitting or capturing) do not necessarily involve similar control processes. Control based on preprogramming of movement parameters is possible for actions with brief movement times but is now widely rejected; continuous perceptuomotor control models are preferred for all types of interception. The rejection of preprogrammed control and acceptance of continuous control is evaluated for the timing of rapidly executed, manual hitting actions. It is shown that a preprogrammed control model is capable of providing a convincing account of observed behavior patterns that avoids many of the arguments that have been raised against it. Prominent continuous perceptual control models are analyzed within a common framework and are shown to be interpretable as feedback control strategies. Although these models can explain observations of on-line adjustments to movement, they offer only post hoc explanations for observed behavior patterns in hitting tasks and are not directly supported by data. It is proposed that rapid manual hitting tasks make up a class of interceptions for which a preprogrammed strategy is adopted--a strategy that minimizes the role of visual feedback. Such a strategy is effective when the task demands a high degree of temporal accuracy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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