Head Movement Control in Visually Guided Tasks: Postural Goal and Optimality

K. Han Kim, R. Brent Gillespie and Bernard J. Martin

Submitted July 2005, Computers in Biology and Medicine

Abstract—This work investigates the control of horizontal head movements in the context of unconstrained visually guided head and arm/finger aiming tasks. In a first experiment, the head was free to move while gaze was directed at randomly presented eccentric targets distributed horizontally (0 to 120°) at eye level. In a second experiment, the horizontal head orientation was constrained to predetermined positions (0, 15, 30, 45 or 60° rightward) while the right index finger aimed at targets with the arm fully extended. Kinematics of head movements in gaze displacements exhibits an initial component weakly correlated with target position, followed by multiple corrections. Since the eyes are assumed to already be aimed at the target when the corrections occur, it is suggested that one goal of head movement control is to achieve a desired final orientation (posture). This hypothesis is supported by results from the second experiment that reveal an association between eye/head orientation angles and errors exhibited in the visuo-spatial representation of the environment. The minimization of error then underlies the control of head movement as a postural response optimized for a given target and task condition.