The execution of a simple pointing task invokes a chain of processing that includes visual acquisition of the target, coordination of multimodal proprioceptive signals, and ultimately the generation of a motor command that will drive the finger to the desired target location. These processes in the sensorimotor chain can be described in terms of internal representations of the target or limb positions and coordinate transformations between different internal reference frames. In this article we first describe how different types of error analysis can be used to identify properties of the internal representations and coordinate transformations within the central nervous system. We then describe a series of experiments in which subjects pointed to remembered 3D visual targets under two lighting conditions (dim light and total darkness) and after two different memory delays (0.5 and 5.0 s) and report results in terms of variable error, constant error, and local distortion. Finally, we present a set of simulations to help explain the patterns of errors produced in this pointing task. These analyses and experiments provide insight into the structure of the underlying sensorimotor processes employed by the central nervous system.

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