We investigated the relative importance of vision and proprioception in estimating target and hand locations in a dynamic environment. Subjects performed a position estimation task in which a target moved horizontally on a screen at a constant velocity and then disappeared. They were asked to estimate the position of the invisible target under two conditions: passively observing and manually tracking. The tracking trials included three visual conditions with a cursor representing the hand position: always visible, disappearing simultaneously with target disappearance, and always invisible. The target’s invisible displacement was systematically underestimated during passive observation. In active conditions, tracking with the visible cursor significantly decreased the extent of underestimation. Tracking of the invisible target became much more accurate under this condition and was not affected by cursor disappearance. In a second experiment, subjects were asked to judge the position of their unseen hand instead of the target during tracking movements. Invisible hand displacements were also underestimated when compared with the actual displacement. Continuous or brief presentation of the cursor reduced the extent of underestimation. These results suggest that vision–proprioception interactions are critical for representing exact target–hand spatial relationships, and that such sensorimotor representation of hand kinematics serves a cognitive function in predicting target position. We propose a hypothesis that the central nervous system can utilize information derived from proprioception and/or efference copy for sensorimotor prediction of dynamic target and hand positions, but that effective use of this information for conscious estimation requires that it be presented in a form that corresponds to that used for the estimations
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