Impact of coordinate transformation uncertainty on human sensorimotor control

Erik J. Schlicht, Paul R. Schrater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Humans build representations of objects and their locations by integrating imperfect information from multiple perceptual modalities (e.g., visual, haptic). Because sensory information is specified in different frames of reference (i.e., eye- and body-centered), it must be remapped into a common coordinate frame before integration and storage in memory. Such transformations require an understanding of body articulation, which is estimated through noisy sensory data. Consequently, target information acquires additional coordinate transformation uncertainty (CTU) during remapping because of errors in joint angle sensing. As a result, CTU creates differences in the reliability of target information depending on the reference frame used for storage. This paper explores whether the brain represents and compensates for CTU when making grasping movements. To address this question, we varied eye position in the head, while participants reached to grasp a spatially fixed object, both when the object was in view and when it was occluded. Varying eye position changes CTU between eye and head, producing additional uncertainty in remapped information away from forward view. The results showed that people adjust their maximum grip aperture to compensate both for changes in visual information and for changes in CTU when the target is occluded. Moreover, the amount of compensation is predicted by a Bayesian model for location inference that uses eye-centered storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4203-4214
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


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