We examined the relative roles of visual and proprioceptive information about initial hand position on movement accuracy. A virtual reality environment was employed to dissociate visual information about hand position from the actual hand position. Previous studies examining the effects of such dissociations on perception of hand location have indicated a bias toward the visually displayed position. However, an earlier study, which employed optical prisms to dissociate visual and proprioceptive information prior to targeted movements, suggested a bias in movement direction toward that defined by the actual hand position. This implies that visual and proprioceptive information about hand position may be differentially employed for perceptual judgments and movement planning, respectively. We now employ a virtual reality environment to systematically manipulate the visual display of the hand start position from the actual hand position during movements made to a variety of directions. We asked whether subjects would adjust their movements in accord with the virtual or the actual hand location. Subjects performed a series of baseline movements toward one of three targets in each of three blocks of trials. Interspersed among these trials were "probe" trials in which the cursor location, but not the hand location, was displaced relative to the baseline start position. In all cases, cursor feedback was blanked at movement onset. Our findings indicated that subjects systematically adjusted the direction of movement in accord with the virtual, not the actual, start location of the hand. These findings support the hypothesis that visual information about hand position predominates in specifying movement direction.
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