Open Access Research

Effect of terminal accuracy requirements on temporal gaze-hand coordination during fast discrete and reciprocal pointings

Romain Terrier12*, Nicolas Forestier1, Félix Berrigan3, Mathieu Germain-Robitaille2, Martin Lavallière2 and Normand Teasdale2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire de Physiologie de l'Exercice (E.A. 4338), Département STAPS, UFR CISM, Université de Savoie, 73376 Le Bourget du lac cedex, France

2 Groupe de Recherche en Analyse du Mouvement et Ergonomie, Division de Kinésiologie, Département de Médecine Sociale et Préventive, Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Québec (Québec), G1K 7P4, Canada

3 Faculté d'éducation physique et sportive, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke (Québec), J1K 2R1, Canada

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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2011, 8:10  doi:10.1186/1743-0003-8-10

Published: 14 February 2011



Rapid discrete goal-directed movements are characterized by a well known coordination pattern between the gaze and the hand displacements. The gaze always starts prior to the hand movement and reaches the target before hand velocity peak. Surprisingly, the effect of the target size on the temporal gaze-hand coordination has not been directly investigated. Moreover, goal-directed movements are often produced in a reciprocal rather than in a discrete manner. The objectives of this work were to assess the effect of the target size on temporal gaze-hand coordination during fast 1) discrete and 2) reciprocal pointings.


Subjects performed fast discrete (experiment 1) and reciprocal (experiment 2) pointings with an amplitude of 50 cm and four target diameters (7.6, 3.8, 1.9 and 0.95 cm) leading to indexes of difficulty (ID = log2[2A/D]) of 3.7, 4.7, 5.7 and 6.7 bits. Gaze and hand displacements were synchronously recorded. Temporal gaze-hand coordination parameters were compared between experiments (discrete and reciprocal pointings) and IDs using analyses of variance (ANOVAs).


Data showed that the magnitude of the gaze-hand lead pattern was much higher for discrete than for reciprocal pointings. Moreover, while it was constant for discrete pointings, it decreased systematically with an increasing ID for reciprocal pointings because of the longer duration of gaze anchoring on target.


Overall, the temporal gaze-hand coordination analysis revealed that even for high IDs, fast reciprocal pointings could not be considered as a concatenation of discrete units. Moreover, our data clearly illustrate the smooth adaptation of temporal gaze-hand coordination to terminal accuracy requirements during fast reciprocal pointings. It will be interesting for further researches to investigate if the methodology used in the experiment 2 allows assessing the effect of sensori-motor deficits on gaze-hand coordination.