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Jul 22, 2015
Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America
In a planar free-hand drawing of an ellipse, the speed of movement is proportional to the -1/3 power of the local curvature, which is widely thought to hold for general curved shapes. We investigated this phenomenon for general curved hand movements by analyzing an optimal control model that maximizes a smoothness cost and exhibits the -1/3 power for ellipses. For the analysis, we introduced a new representation for curved movements based on a moving reference frame and a dimensionless angle coordinate that revealed scale-invariant features of curved movements. The analysis confirmed the power law for drawing ellipses but also predicted a spectrum of power laws with exponents ranging between 0 and -2/3 for simple movements that can be characterized by a single angular frequency. Moreover, it predicted mixtures of power laws for more complex, multifrequency movements that were confirmed with human drawing experiments. The speed profiles of arbitrary doodling movements that exhibit broadband curvature profiles were accurately predicted as well. These findings have implications for motor planning and predict that movements only depend on one radian of angle coordinate in the past and only need to be planned one radian ahead.

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