Spatial and temporal characteristics of rapid cursor-positioning movements with electromechanical mice in human-computer interaction

Neff Walker, D. E. Meyer, J. B. Smelcer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This research examines how people make movements with pointing devices during human-computer interaction. It specifically concerns the perceptual- motor processes that mediate the speed and accuracy of cursor positioning with electromechanical mice. In three experiments we investigated the spatial and temporal characteristics of positioning movements made with a mouse, analyzing subjects' speed and accuracy as a function of the types of targets that the movements had to reach. Experiment 1 required rapid and accurate horizontal movements to targets that were vertical ribbons located at various distances from the mouse's starting location. The targets for Experiments 2 and 3, respectively, were vertical lines having various heights and rectangular boxes having various heights and widths. Constraints on movement distance along the primary (that is, horizontal) line of motion had the greatest effects on total positioning times. However, constraints on movement distance along a secondary (vertical) line of motion also affected total positioning times significantly. These effects may be localized in different phases of movement (e.g., movement execution and verification). The duration of movement execution (i.e., physical motion) depends primarily on the target distance, whereas the duration of movement verification (i.e., check for endpoint accuracy) depends primarily on target height and width. A useful account of movement execution is provided by stochastic optimized- submovement models, which have significant implications for designing mice and menu-driven displays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-458
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Psychology(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics

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