An emerging target paradigm to evoke fast visuomotor responses on human upper limb muscles
Journal of Visualized Experiments
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© 2020 JoVE. To reach towards a seen object, visual information has to be transformed into motor commands. Visual information such as the object’s color, shape, and size are processed and integrated within numerous brain areas, then ultimately relayed to the motor periphery. In some instances, a reaction is needed as fast as possible. These fast visuomotor transformations, and their underlying neurological substrates, are poorly understood in humans as they have lacked a reliable biomarker. Stimulus-locked responses (SLRs) are short latency (<100 ms) bursts of electromyographic (EMG) activity representing the first wave of muscle recruitment influenced by visual stimulus presentation. SLRs provide a quantifiable output of rapid visuomotor transformations, but SLRs have not been consistently observed in all subjects in past studies. Here we describe a new, behavioral paradigm featuring the sudden emergence of a moving target below an obstacle that consistently evokes robust SLRs. Human participants generated visually guided reaches toward or away from the emerging target using a robotic manipulandum while surface electrodes recorded EMG activity from the pectoralis major muscle. In comparison to previous studies that investigated SLRs using static stimuli, the SLRs evoked with this emerging target paradigm were larger, evolved earlier, and were present in all participants. Reach reaction times (RTs) were also expedited in the emerging target paradigm. This paradigm affords numerous opportunities for modification that could permit systematic study of the impact of various sensory, cognitive, and motor manipulations on fast visuomotor responses. Overall, our results demonstrate that an emerging target paradigm is capable of consistently and robustly evoking activity within a fast visuomotor system.