Visual Information in the Coordination and Control of Isometric Force

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Contribution to Book

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The Cambridge Handbook of Applied Perception Research


Cambridge University Press

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Introduction Manual control is a hallmark topic and paradigm of experimental psychology, dating to the earliest applied experimental psychology on airplane piloting and railroad engineering (see Hoffman and Deffenbacher, 1992). The study of manual control affords investigation of adaptive visual-motor activity. The essential operational feature of manual control experiments is that the operator can adjust his/her response on the basis of visual information from a computer screen that allows for investigation of a range of sensorimotor processes (e.g., Jagacinski and Flach, 2003). This adaptive control paradigm has its roots in traditional manual tracking experiments (Jones, 2000; Poulton, 1974) and has foundational operational links to contemporary human-computer interaction applications. Manual control has been studied extensively following two theoretical frameworks: information processing and dynamic pattern generation. The investigation of sensory, particularly visual, information in manual control includes standard manipulations that change the amount of information in the display from an information theory framework (Shannon and Weaver, 1949) that has been interpreted through the central processing of perceived information and its influence on the motor performance outcome (Wickens, 1984). In this chapter, we interpret the visual information presentation in the context of the dynamical information of the force output afforded the participant, and we emphasize the mutual influence between the perception of visual information and patterns of motor coordination and control. From the dynamic pattern perspective, different perception-action components of the system organize themselves into coordinative structures (Turvey, 1990). The structures do not reflect prescribed higher level commands but are self-organized as a consequence of emergent properties of the environmental and organismic system constraints/configurations (Newell, 1986).

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