Previous research has shown that even when limb position drifts considerably during continuous blind performance, the topological and metrical properties of generated hand paths remain remarkably invariant. We tested two possible accounts of this intriguing effect. According to one hypothesis, position drift is due to degradation of limb-position information. This hypothesis predicted that drift of static hand positions at movement reversals should not depend on movement speed. According to the other hypothesis, position drift is due to degradation of movement information. This hypothesis predicted that drift of static hand positions at movement reversals should vary with movement speed. We tested these two hypotheses by varying the required movement speed when normal human adults performed back-and-forth manual positioning movements in the absence of visual feedback. Movement distance and direction were well preserved even though hand positions between movements drifted considerably. In accord with the movement error hypothesis, but not in accord with the position hypothesis, the rate at which hand positions drifted depended on movement speed. The data are consistent with the idea that hand position, which defines the origin of the trajectory control coordinate system, and movement trajectory are controlled by distinct neural mechanisms.
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