Planning "discrete" movements using a continuous system: Insights from a dynamic field theory of movement preparation

Anne R. Schutte, John P. Spencer

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The timed-initiation paradigm developed by Ghez and colleagues (1997) has revealed two modes of motor planning: continuous and discrete. Continuous responding occurs when targets are separated by less than 60° of spatial angle, and discrete responding occurs when targets are separated by greater than 60°. Although these two modes are thought to reflect the operation of separable strategic planning systems, a new theory of movement preparation, the Dynamic Field Theory, suggests that two modes emerge flexibly from the same system. Experiment 1 replicated continuous and discrete performance using a task modified to allow for a critical test of the single system view. In Experiment 2, participants were allowed to correct their movements following movement initiation (the standard task does not allow corrections). Results showed continuous planning performance at large and small target separations. These results are consistent with the proposal that the two modes reflect the time-dependent "preshaping" of a single planning system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-208
Number of pages43
JournalMotor Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • Dynamic systems
  • Human
  • Motor control
  • Motor planning
  • Reading
  • Timed-initiation paradigm

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