Role of peripheral vision in rapid perturbation-evoked reach-to-grasp reactions

Sakineh B Akram, Veronica Miyasike-daSilva, Karen Van Ooteghem, William E McIlroy
Experimental Brain Research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation Cérébrale 2013, 229 (4): 609-19
Onset and execution of compensatory reaches are faster than the most rapid voluntary reaches. With onset latencies near 100 ms, it is proposed that initial control of compensatory reaches cannot rely on visual information obtained after perturbation onset; rather, they rely on a visuospatial map acquired prior to instability. In natural conditions, it is not practical to direct gaze toward every potential support surface in preparation for a perturbation, suggesting that peripheral vision may be uniquely important. This study aimed to determine whether visuospatial mapping achieved using only peripheral visual information could be used to control reach-to-grasp reactions. Participants sat in an unstable chair. Whole body perturbations were used to evoke rapid reach-to-grasp reactions. A handle was positioned at midline or to the right of the participant. Gaze was directed toward the center or right to view the handle in peripheral or central visual fields. Electromyographic and kinematic data were recorded. Peripheral information acquired prior to perturbation was sufficient for successful execution of reach-to-grasp without delay. Differences in reach kinematics, however, did exist between vision conditions (e.g., maximum lateral wrist displacement and magnitude of hand overshoot relative to the handle were greater for peripheral vs. central vision). Handle location led to target-specific differences in initial muscle recruitment revealing information acquired prior to perturbation were used to guide initial limb trajectory. Results reveal the capacity to rely on a visuospatial map constructed from peripheral visual information for compensatory reaching but also highlight limitations leading to more conservative reach trajectories.

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