Intercepting real and path-guided apparent motion targets

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Human subjects were instructed to intercept with a cursor real and apparent motion targets presented on a computer screen. Targets traveled counterclockwise (CCW) in a circle at one of five angular velocities (180, 300, 420, 480 and 540 deg/s), either smoothly (real motion) or in path-guided apparent motion. Subjects operated a computer mouse and were instructed to intercept targets at the 12 o'clock position; there were no constraints on when to initiate the response, which was a movement from the center of the screen towards and past 12 o'clock. We found the following: (a) for both motion conditions and all target velocities, subjects were late in intercepting the target, especially at higher target velocities; (b) for both motion conditions, the directional variability of the response increased as a linear function of the target velocity, (c) the directional variability of the response was systematically higher for the apparent than the real motion condition; there was no significant interaction between target velocity and target motion type; (d) the response time did not vary significantly with velocity, but was consistently longer for apparent than real motion targets; (e) the movement time was very similar for different target velocities; and (f) the moment of initiation of the interception movement was delayed appreciably at higher target velocities, relative to that dictated for perfect interception at a given target velocity. This delay was greater for the apparent motion target. These results demonstrated the following: (a) for both target motion conditions, interception was not fully predictive but lagged the target in spite of the constant target velocity and the unconstrained time allowed for initiating the interception movement; (b) subjects can intercept an apparent motion target but, compared with real motion, the performance is somewhat degraded overall; (c) the similarities in performance between the two target motion conditions, and the fact that target velocity influenced performance in a similar fashion, suggest that the motor system can access the visual information provided by the moving target; and (d) since movement time was similar for different target velocities, the strategy for interception relied on controlling the moment of initiation of the interception movement. This was successful for low target velocities but became unsuccessful at higher target velocities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-307
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Apparent motion
  • Coincidence timing
  • Target interception


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