Effects of postural task requirements on the speed-accuracy trade-off

Marcos Duarte, Mark L. Latash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We investigated the speed-accuracy trade-off in a task of pointing with the big toe of the right foot by a standing person that was designed to accentuate the importance of postural adjustments. This was done to test two hypotheses: (1) movement time during foot pointing will scale linearly with ID during target width changes, but the scaling will differ across movement distances; and (2) variations in movement time will be reflected in postural preparations to foot motion. Ten healthy adults stood on the force plate and were instructed to point with the big toe of the right foot at a target (with widths varying from 2 to 10 cm) placed on the floor in front of the subject at a distance varying from 10 to 100 cm. The instruction given to the subjects was typical for Fitts' paradigm: "be as fast and as accurate as possible in your pointing movement". The results have shown that movement time during foot pointing movements scaled with both target distance (D) and target width (W), but the two dependences could not be reduced to a single function of W/D, confirming the first hypothesis. With respect to the second hypothesis, we found that changes in task parameters led to proportional variations in movement speed and indices of variability of the postural adjustments prior to leg movement initiation, confirming the second hypothesis. Both groups of observations were valid over the whole range of distances despite the switch of the movement strategy in the middle of this range. We conclude that the speed-accuracy trade-off in a task with postural adjustments originates at the level of movement planning. The different dependences of movement time on D and W may be related to spontaneous postural sway (migration of the point of application of the resultant force acting on the body of the standing person). The results may have practical implications for posture and gait rehabilitation techniques that use modifications of stepping accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of postural task requirements on the speed-accuracy trade-off'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this