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The Trade-Off between Spatial and Temporal Variabilities in Reciprocal Upper-Limb Aiming Movements of Different Durations

Abstract : The spatial and temporal aspects of movement variability have typically been studied separately. As a result the relationship between spatial and temporal variabilities remains largely unknown. In two experiments we examined the evolution and covariation of spatial and temporal variabilities over variations in the duration of reciprocal aiming movements. Experiments differed in settings: In Experiment 1 participants moved unperturbed whereas in Experiment 2 they were confronted with an elastic force field. Different movement durations—for a constant inter-target distance—were either evoked by imposing spatial accuracy constraints while requiring participants to move as fast as possible, or prescribed by means of an auditory metronome while requiring participants to maximize spatial accuracy. Analyses focused on absolute and relative variabilities, respectively captured by the standard deviation (SD) and the coefficient of variation (CV = SD/mean). Spatial variability (both SDspace and CVspace) decreased with movement duration, while temporal variability (both SDtime and CVtime) increased with movement duration. We found strong negative correlations between spatial and temporal variabilities over variations in movement duration, whether the variability examined was absolute or relative. These findings observed at the level of the full movement contrasted with the findings observed at the level of the separate acceleration and deceleration phases of movement. During the separate acceleration and deceleration phases both spatial and temporal variabilities (SD and CV) were found to increase with their respective durations, leading to positive correlations between them. Moreover, variability was generally larger at the level of the constituent movement phases than at the level of the full movement. The general pattern of results was robust, as it emerged in both tasks in each of the two experiments. We conclude that feedback mechanisms operating to maximize task performance are subjected to a form of competition between spatial and temporal variabilities.
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Frederic Danion, Raoul M. Bongers, Reinoud J. Bootsma. The Trade-Off between Spatial and Temporal Variabilities in Reciprocal Upper-Limb Aiming Movements of Different Durations. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2014, 9 (5), pp.123 - 123. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0097447⟩. ⟨hal-01467725⟩

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