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Experimental Brain Research


Proprioception of hand orientation (orientation production using the hand) is compared with manual matching of visual orientation (visual surface matching using the hand) in two experiments. In experiment 1, using self-selected arm postures, the proportions of wrist and elbow flexion spontaneously used to orient the pitch of the hand (20 and 80%, respectively) are relatively similar across both manual matching tasks and manual orientation production tasks for most participants. Proprioceptive error closely matched perceptual biases previously reported for visual orientation perception, suggesting calibration of proprioception to visual biases. A minority of participants, who attempted to use primarily wrist flexion while holding the forearm horizontal, performed poorly at the manual matching task, consistent with proprioceptive error caused by biomechanical constraints of their self-selected posture. In experiment 2, postural choices were constrained to primarily wrist or elbow flexion without imposing biomechanical constraints (using a raised forearm). Identical relative offsets were found between the two constraint groups in manual matching and manual orientation production. The results support two claims: (1) manual orientation matching to visual surfaces is based on manual proprioception and (2) calibration between visual and proprioceptive experiences guarantees relatively accurate manual matching for surfaces within reach, despite systematic visual biases in perceived surface orientation.


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