Hand-held tools with complex kinematics are efficiently incorporated into movement planning and online control

Lee A. Baugh, Erica Hoe, J. Randall Flanagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Certain hand-held tools alter the mapping between hand motion and motion of the tool end point that must be controlled in order to perform a task. For example, when using a pool cue, the motion of the cue tip is reversed relative to the hand. Previous studies have shown that the time required to initiate a reaching movement (Fernandez-Ruiz J, Wong W, Armstrong IT, Flanagan JR. Behav Brain Res 219: 8 -14, 2011), or correct an ongoing reaching movement (Gritsenko V, Kalaska JF. J Neurophysiol 104: 3084 -3104, 2010), is prolonged when the mapping between hand motion and motion of a cursor controlled by the hand is reversed. Here we show that these time costs can be significantly reduced when the reversal is instantiated by a virtual hand-held tool. Participants grasped the near end of a virtual tool, consisting of a rod connecting two circles, and moved the end point to displayed targets. In the reversal condition, the rod translated through, and rotated about, a pivot point such that there was a left-right reversal between hand and end point motion. In the nonreversal control, the tool translated with the hand. As expected, when only the two circles were presented, movement initiation and correction times were much longer in the reversal condition. However, when full vision of the tool was provided, the reaction time cost was almost eliminated. These results indicate that tools with complex kinematics can be efficiently incorporated into sensorimotor control mechanisms used in movement planning and online control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1964
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2012



  • Movement correction
  • Movement planning
  • Sensorimotor control
  • Tool use
  • Visuomotor reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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