The effects of reducing preparation time on the execution of intentionally curved trajectories: Optimization and geometrical analysis

Dovrat Kohen, Matan Karklinsky, Yaron Meirovitch, Tamar Flash, Lior Shmuelof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


When subjects are intentionally preparing a curved trajectory, they are engaged in a time-consuming trajectory planning process that is separate from target selection. To investigate the construction of such a plan, we examined the effect of artificially shortening preparation time on the performance of intentionally curved trajectories using the Timed Response task that enforces initiation of movements prematurely. Fifteen subjects performed obstacle avoidance movements toward one of four targets that were presented 25 or 350 ms before the “go” signal, imposing short and long preparation time conditions with mean values of 170 ms and 493 ms, respectively. While trajectories with short preparation times showed target specificity at their onset, they were significantly more variable and showed larger angular deviations from the lines connecting their initial position and the target, compared to the trajectories with long preparation times. Importantly, the trajectories of the short preparation time movements still reached their end-point targets accurately, with comparable movement durations. We hypothesize that success in the short preparation time condition is a result of an online control mechanism that allows further refinement of the plan during its execution and study this control mechanism with a novel trajectory analysis approach using minimum jerk optimization and geometrical modeling approaches. Results show a later agreement of the short preparation time trajectories with the optimal minimum jerk trajectory, accompanied by a later initiation of a parabolic segment. Both observations are consistent with the existence of an online trajectory planning process. Our results suggest that when preparation time is not sufficiently long, subjects execute a more variable and less optimally prepared initial trajectory and exploit online control mechanisms to refine their actions on the fly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number333
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - 29 Jun 2017


  • Drawing
  • Motor planning
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Optimization
  • Reaching
  • Reaction time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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