We tested a hypothesis that the classical relation between movement time and index of difficulty (ID) in quick pointing action (Fitts’ Law) reflects processes at the level of motor planning. Healthy subjects stood on a force platform and performed quick and accurate hand movements into targets of different size located at two distances. The movements were associated with early postural adjustments that are assumed to reflect motor planning processes. The short distance did not require trunk rotation, while the long distance did. As a result, movements over the long distance were associated with substantial Coriolis forces. Movement kinematics and contact forces and moments recorded by the platform were studied. Movement time scaled with ID for both movements. However, the data could not be fitted with a single regression: Movements over the long distance had a larger intercept corresponding to movement times about 140 ms longer than movements over the shorter distance. The magnitude of postural adjustments prior to movement initiation scaled with ID for both short and long distances. Our results provide strong support for the hypothesis that Fitts’ Law emerges at the level of motor planning, not at the level of corrections of ongoing movements. They show that, during natural movements, changes in movement distance may lead to changes in the relation between movement time and ID, for example when the contribution of different body segments to the movement varies and when the action of Coriolis force may require an additional correction of the movement trajectory.
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