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Sensorimotor delays in tracking may be compensated by negative feedback control of motion-extrapolated position.

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Parker, Maximilian G  ORCID logo
Weightman, Andrew P 
Tyson, Sarah F 
Abbott, Bruce 
Mansell, Warren 


Sensorimotor delays dictate that humans act on outdated perceptual information. As a result, continuous manual tracking of an unpredictable target incurs significant response delays. However, no such delays are observed for repeating targets such as the sinusoids. Findings of this kind have led researchers to claim that the nervous system constructs predictive, probabilistic models of the world. However, a more parsimonious explanation is that visual perception of a moving target position is systematically biased by its velocity. The resultant extrapolated position could be compared with the cursor position and the difference canceled by negative feedback control, compensating sensorimotor delays. The current study tested whether a position extrapolation model fit human tracking of sinusoid (predictable) and pseudorandom (less predictable) targets better than the non-biased position control model, Twenty-eight participants tracked these targets and the two computational models were fit to the data at 60 fixed loop delay values (simulating sensorimotor delays). We observed that pseudorandom targets were tracked with a significantly greater phase delay than sinusoid targets. For sinusoid targets, the position extrapolation model simulated tracking results more accurately for loop delays longer than 120 ms, thereby confirming its ability to compensate for sensorimotor delays. However, for pseudorandom targets, this advantage arose only after 300 ms, indicating that velocity information is unlikely to be exploited in this way during the tracking of less predictable targets. We conclude that negative feedback control of position is a parsimonious model for tracking pseudorandom targets and that negative feedback control of extrapolated position is a parsimonious model for tracking sinusoidal targets.


Funder: University of Cambridge


Action control, Pursuit tracking, Sensorimotor delay, Feedback, Humans, Motion, Motion Perception, Psychomotor Performance, Vision, Ocular, Visual Perception

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Exp Brain Res

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC