Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Visual Information about Past, Current and Future Properties of Irregular Target Paths in Isometric Force Tracking

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Visual Information about Past, Current and Future Properties of Irregular Target Paths in Isometric Force Tracking

Article excerpt

Published online: 12 September 2014

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract In visual-motor tracking, information about past, current, and future properties of a target path can be available but, because they are typically manipulated independently, the relative contribution of these information categories to tracking performance is not well understood. The aimof the current study was to investigate the role of visual information pertaining to past, current, and future states of the target path in guiding isometric tracking performance as a function of the irregularity of the target path (sine wave, brown/pink noise, white noise). The findings from local and global properties of the force output showed that the role of visual information about the past, current, and future states of target paths is dependent on the regularity of the signal to be tracked. The brown/pink noise pathway condition was most strongly influenced by future and past-future visual information for both local error properties (lead/lag, root mean square error (RMSE)) and global properties of the force output (ApEn, cross correlation). The highly irregular white noise pathway did not benefit from past or future information and the highly regular sine wave was only influenced for the local error properties of RMSE and lead/lag. It appears that visual information about past and future tracking states is more effective with a pathway that is middling with respect to regularity/irregularity. This is consistent with the role of visual information in tracking to be dependent on the potential adaptability for change in the dimension of the motor output.

Keywords Isometric force . Visual information . 1/f Behavior . Tracking

Introduction

In visual-motor tracking tasks, the goal is to maintain contact with a changing target path, often in a continuous fashion. Information about past properties of the target path to be tracked can be used as a means of realizing and adapting to errors between motor output and the target path (Miall, Weir, & Stein, 1985; Poulton, 1964). Information about the future properties of the target path can facilitate tracking performance by providing knowledge of the future states of the movement goal (Poulton, 1954; Nijhawan, 1994; Suddendorf & Corballis, 2007). Here, we investigate the postulation that the use of visual information in tracking depends on the temporal window of pathway information that is available (past, current, and/or future) as well as on the space-time irregularity/regularity characteristics of the target path.

Skilled tracking is typically signified by less error between movement outcome and the target path (Poulton, 1974), with error measured at each sampled point and then averaged over the time series. Other performance measures, including the lead/lag of the movement outcome and target path have been used to assess tracking performance to continuous visual target paths (Poulton, 1954; Crossman, 1960; Michael & Jones, 1966; Rankin, Large, & Fink, 2009; Repp, 2002). These measures capture a participant's average deviation from the target pathway at each point in time, reflecting local properties of tracking performance.

A few studies have examined the influence of feedback information about past states of the pathway on tracking performance. Poulton (1964) showed improved tracking of sine wave-like targets when past information was provided, but only when future information was not available. He concluded that information about past performance states allowed participants to better predict future states of the target path even when future states were not directly accessible (e.g., could not be seen). Furthermore, Studenka and Newell (2013) found that presence of future information about the target path aided performance, but only when past information was not available, indicating that presence of information about the past states of a target path influence tracking. …

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