The effect of distance on reaction time in aiming movements

Heather Quirk Munro, Mandy S. Plumb, Andrew D. Wilson, Justin H. G. Williams, Mark Arwyn Mon-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Target distance affects movement duration in aiming tasks but its effect on reaction time (RT) is poorly documented. RT is a function of both preparation and initiation. Experiment 1 pre-cued movement (allowing advanced preparation) and found no influence of distance on RT. Thus, target distance does not affect initiation time. Experiment 2 removed pre-cue information and found that preparing a movement of increased distance lengthens RT. Experiment 3 explored movements to targets of cued size at non-cued distances and found size altered peak speed and movement duration but RT was influenced by distance alone. Thus, amplitude influences preparation time (for reasons other than altered duration) but not initiation time. We hypothesise that the RT distance effect might be due to the increased number of possible trajectories associated with further targets: a hypothesis that can be tested in future experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


  • movement
  • reaction time
  • preparation
  • Fitts' law
  • aiming
  • fitts law
  • programming time
  • complexity
  • responses
  • accuracy


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