Speed and accuracy of compensatory responses to limb disturbances

K. M. Newell*, J. C. Houk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Examined the compensatory responses of 20 adult volunteers to flexion-extension perturbations of the wrist in the horizontal plane. In Exps I and II, Ss were required to establish an initial flexion or extension force of approximately 15% maximum at a prescribed initial muscle length. The perturbations changed the load force by ±5% in both simple and choice reaction protocols. Latencies to compensate for the perturbation were longer when the direction of disturbance was unknown (i.e., choice effect) and when the perturbation unloaded the muscle (i.e., directional effect). Accuracy constraints on the compensatory response increased movement time and reduced the variability of latency without affecting mean latency. In Exp III, a visual stimulus generated a comparable choice effect on latency to that produced by the perturbations, but no directional effect in relation to the preload was apparent. Results confirm that compensatory responses are susceptible to variables that influence the initiation of voluntary movements. A directional stimulus-specific preload effect was also demonstrated. (39 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-74
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1983


  • accuracy constraints &
  • accuracy of compensatory responses to wrist disturbances, adults
  • known vs unknown direction of load &
  • load vs unload &
  • visual stimulus, speed &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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