Research Summary: Behavioral Investigation on the Frames of Reference Involved in Visuomotor Transformations during Peripheral Arm Reaching



Several psychophysical experiments found evidence for the involvement of gaze-centered and/or body-centered coordinates in arm-movement planning and execution. Here we aimed at investigating the frames of reference involved in the visuomotor transformations for reaching towards visual targets in space by taking target eccentricity and performing hand into account.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We examined several performance measures while subjects reached, in complete darkness, memorized targets situated at different locations relative to the gaze and/or to the body, thus distinguishing between an eye-centered and a body-centered frame of reference involved in the computation of the movement vector. The errors seem to be mainly affected by the visual hemifield of the target, independently from its location relative to the body, with an overestimation error in the horizontal reaching dimension (retinal exaggeration effect). The use of several target locations within the perifoveal visual field allowed us to reveal a novel finding, that is, a positive linear correlation between horizontal overestimation errors and target retinal eccentricity. In addition, we found an independent influence of the performing hand on the visuomotor transformation process, with each hand misreaching towards the ipsilateral side.


While supporting the existence of an internal mechanism of target-effector integration in multiple frames of reference, the present data, especially the linear overshoot at small target eccentricities, clearly indicate the primary role of gaze-centered coding of target location in the visuomotor transformation for reaching.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 13-December-2012

Author(s): Ambrosini E., Ciavarro M., Pelle G., Perrucci M., Galati G., Fattori P., Galletti C., Committeri G.


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