Where are you throwing the ball? I better watch your body, not just your arm!

Antonella Maselli, Aishwar Dhawan, Benedetta Cesqui, Marta Russo, Francesco Lacquaniti, Andrea d’Avella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The ability to intercept or avoid a moving object, whether to catch a ball, snatch one’s prey, or avoid the path of a predator, is a skill that has been acquired throughout evolution by many species in the animal kingdom. This requires processing early visual cues in order to program anticipatory motor responses tuned to the forthcoming event. Here, we explore the nature of the early kinematics cues that could inform an observer about the future direction of a ball projected with an unconstrained overarm throw. Our goal was to pinpoint the body segments that, throughout the temporal course of the throwing action, could provide key cues for accurately predicting the side of the outgoing ball. We recorded whole-body kinematics from twenty non-expert participants performing unconstrained overarm throws at four different targets placed on a vertical plane at 6 m distance. In order to characterize the spatiotemporal structure of the information embedded in the kinematics of the throwing action about the outgoing ball direction, we introduced a novel combination of dimensionality reduction and machine learning techniques. The recorded kinematics clearly shows that throwing styles differed considerably across individuals, with corresponding inter-individual differences in the spatio-temporal structure of the thrower predictability. We found that for most participants it is possible to predict the region where the ball hit the target plane, with an accuracy above 80%, as early as 400–500 ms before ball release. Interestingly, the body parts that provided the most informative cues about the action outcome varied with the throwing style and during the time course of the throwing action. Not surprisingly, at the very end of the action, the throwing arm is the most informative body segment. However, cues allowing for predictions to be made earlier than 200 ms before release are typically associated to other body parts, such as the lower limbs and the contralateral arm. These findings are discussed in the context of the sport-science literature on throwing and catching interactive tasks, as well as from the wider perspective of the role of sensorimotor coupling in interpersonal social interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number505
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 30 2017

Fingerprint

Cues
Biomechanical Phenomena
Human Body
Aptitude
Interpersonal Relations
Individuality
Sports
Lower Extremity
Direction compound

Keywords

  • Advanced information
  • Biological motion perception
  • Dimensionality reduction
  • Inter-individual variability
  • Machine learning
  • Overarm throwing
  • Predictions
  • Visual cues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Where are you throwing the ball? I better watch your body, not just your arm! / Maselli, Antonella; Dhawan, Aishwar; Cesqui, Benedetta; Russo, Marta; Lacquaniti, Francesco; d’Avella, Andrea.

In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol. 11, 505, 30.10.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{15c807d4bdc3402b9f430e4d5a236451,
title = "Where are you throwing the ball? I better watch your body, not just your arm!",
abstract = "The ability to intercept or avoid a moving object, whether to catch a ball, snatch one’s prey, or avoid the path of a predator, is a skill that has been acquired throughout evolution by many species in the animal kingdom. This requires processing early visual cues in order to program anticipatory motor responses tuned to the forthcoming event. Here, we explore the nature of the early kinematics cues that could inform an observer about the future direction of a ball projected with an unconstrained overarm throw. Our goal was to pinpoint the body segments that, throughout the temporal course of the throwing action, could provide key cues for accurately predicting the side of the outgoing ball. We recorded whole-body kinematics from twenty non-expert participants performing unconstrained overarm throws at four different targets placed on a vertical plane at 6 m distance. In order to characterize the spatiotemporal structure of the information embedded in the kinematics of the throwing action about the outgoing ball direction, we introduced a novel combination of dimensionality reduction and machine learning techniques. The recorded kinematics clearly shows that throwing styles differed considerably across individuals, with corresponding inter-individual differences in the spatio-temporal structure of the thrower predictability. We found that for most participants it is possible to predict the region where the ball hit the target plane, with an accuracy above 80{\%}, as early as 400–500 ms before ball release. Interestingly, the body parts that provided the most informative cues about the action outcome varied with the throwing style and during the time course of the throwing action. Not surprisingly, at the very end of the action, the throwing arm is the most informative body segment. However, cues allowing for predictions to be made earlier than 200 ms before release are typically associated to other body parts, such as the lower limbs and the contralateral arm. These findings are discussed in the context of the sport-science literature on throwing and catching interactive tasks, as well as from the wider perspective of the role of sensorimotor coupling in interpersonal social interactions.",
keywords = "Advanced information, Biological motion perception, Dimensionality reduction, Inter-individual variability, Machine learning, Overarm throwing, Predictions, Visual cues",
author = "Antonella Maselli and Aishwar Dhawan and Benedetta Cesqui and Marta Russo and Francesco Lacquaniti and Andrea d’Avella",
year = "2017",
month = "10",
day = "30",
doi = "10.3389/fnhum.2017.00505",
language = "English",
volume = "11",
journal = "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience",
issn = "1662-5161",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S. A.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Where are you throwing the ball? I better watch your body, not just your arm!

AU - Maselli, Antonella

AU - Dhawan, Aishwar

AU - Cesqui, Benedetta

AU - Russo, Marta

AU - Lacquaniti, Francesco

AU - d’Avella, Andrea

PY - 2017/10/30

Y1 - 2017/10/30

N2 - The ability to intercept or avoid a moving object, whether to catch a ball, snatch one’s prey, or avoid the path of a predator, is a skill that has been acquired throughout evolution by many species in the animal kingdom. This requires processing early visual cues in order to program anticipatory motor responses tuned to the forthcoming event. Here, we explore the nature of the early kinematics cues that could inform an observer about the future direction of a ball projected with an unconstrained overarm throw. Our goal was to pinpoint the body segments that, throughout the temporal course of the throwing action, could provide key cues for accurately predicting the side of the outgoing ball. We recorded whole-body kinematics from twenty non-expert participants performing unconstrained overarm throws at four different targets placed on a vertical plane at 6 m distance. In order to characterize the spatiotemporal structure of the information embedded in the kinematics of the throwing action about the outgoing ball direction, we introduced a novel combination of dimensionality reduction and machine learning techniques. The recorded kinematics clearly shows that throwing styles differed considerably across individuals, with corresponding inter-individual differences in the spatio-temporal structure of the thrower predictability. We found that for most participants it is possible to predict the region where the ball hit the target plane, with an accuracy above 80%, as early as 400–500 ms before ball release. Interestingly, the body parts that provided the most informative cues about the action outcome varied with the throwing style and during the time course of the throwing action. Not surprisingly, at the very end of the action, the throwing arm is the most informative body segment. However, cues allowing for predictions to be made earlier than 200 ms before release are typically associated to other body parts, such as the lower limbs and the contralateral arm. These findings are discussed in the context of the sport-science literature on throwing and catching interactive tasks, as well as from the wider perspective of the role of sensorimotor coupling in interpersonal social interactions.

AB - The ability to intercept or avoid a moving object, whether to catch a ball, snatch one’s prey, or avoid the path of a predator, is a skill that has been acquired throughout evolution by many species in the animal kingdom. This requires processing early visual cues in order to program anticipatory motor responses tuned to the forthcoming event. Here, we explore the nature of the early kinematics cues that could inform an observer about the future direction of a ball projected with an unconstrained overarm throw. Our goal was to pinpoint the body segments that, throughout the temporal course of the throwing action, could provide key cues for accurately predicting the side of the outgoing ball. We recorded whole-body kinematics from twenty non-expert participants performing unconstrained overarm throws at four different targets placed on a vertical plane at 6 m distance. In order to characterize the spatiotemporal structure of the information embedded in the kinematics of the throwing action about the outgoing ball direction, we introduced a novel combination of dimensionality reduction and machine learning techniques. The recorded kinematics clearly shows that throwing styles differed considerably across individuals, with corresponding inter-individual differences in the spatio-temporal structure of the thrower predictability. We found that for most participants it is possible to predict the region where the ball hit the target plane, with an accuracy above 80%, as early as 400–500 ms before ball release. Interestingly, the body parts that provided the most informative cues about the action outcome varied with the throwing style and during the time course of the throwing action. Not surprisingly, at the very end of the action, the throwing arm is the most informative body segment. However, cues allowing for predictions to be made earlier than 200 ms before release are typically associated to other body parts, such as the lower limbs and the contralateral arm. These findings are discussed in the context of the sport-science literature on throwing and catching interactive tasks, as well as from the wider perspective of the role of sensorimotor coupling in interpersonal social interactions.

KW - Advanced information

KW - Biological motion perception

KW - Dimensionality reduction

KW - Inter-individual variability

KW - Machine learning

KW - Overarm throwing

KW - Predictions

KW - Visual cues

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85036566061&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85036566061&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00505

DO - 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00505

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85036566061

VL - 11

JO - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

JF - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

SN - 1662-5161

M1 - 505

ER -