Kinematic Analysis of Manual Tracking in Monkeys: Characterization of Movement Intermittencies during a Circular Tracking Task

A. V. Roitman, S. G. Massaquoi, K. Takahashi, T. J. Ebner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Segmentation of the velocity profiles into the submovements has been observed in reaching and tracking limb movements and even in isometric tasks. Submovements have been implicated in both feed-forward and feedback control. In this study, submovements were analyzed during manual tracking in the nonhuman primate with the focus on the amplitude-duration scaling of submovements and the error signals involved in their control. The task consisted of the interception and visually guided pursuit of a target moving in a circle. The submovements were quantified based on their duration and amplitude in the speed profile. Control experiments using passive movements demonstrated that these intermittencies were not instrumentation artifacts. Submovements were prominent in both the interception and tracking phases and their amplitude scaled linearly with duration. The scaling factors increased with tracking speed at the same rate for both interception and pursuit. A cross-correlation analysis between a variety of error signals and the speed profile revealed that direction and speed errors were temporally coupled to the submovements. The cross-correlation profiles suggest that submovements are initiated when speed error reaches a certain limit and when direction error is minimized. The scaling results show that in monkeys submovements characterize both the interception and pursuit portions of the task and that these submovements have similar scaling properties consistent with 1) the concept of stereotypy and 2) adding constant acceleration/force at a specific tracking speed. The correlation results show involvement of speed and direction error signals in controlling the submovements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-911
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


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