The law relating the kinematic and figural aspects of drawing movements

Francesco Lacquaniti, Carlo Terzuolo, Paolo Viviani

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Considerable evidence exists that the velocity of execution of handwriting and drawing movements depends on some global metric properties of the movement (size, linear extent etc.). Recent experiments have demonstrated that the instantaneous velocity also depends on the local curvature of the trajectory, that is, on the differential geometrical properties of the movement. In this paper we investigate further the role of the differential factors. Experiments are described in which drawing movements of simple geometrical forms and scribbles are performed either freely and extemporaneously, or in the presence of external constraints. It is shown that, at any time during the movement, the velocity component related to differential factors only depends on the value of the curvature of the trajectory at the same time (no dynamics). The relation can be described quantitatively as a specific Power Law and applies to all movements considered here, including those which are performed by following the edge of a template. The fact that the velocity of execution increases with the radius of curvature implies a built-in tendency of the motor control system to keep angular velocity relatively constant and qualifies the Isogony Principle proposed previously. The specific exponent of the Power Law suggests a possible interpretation of this empirical relation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-130
Number of pages16
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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