A fundamental cognitive skill for daily life
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Hand-eye coordination, or eye-hand coordination, is the ability to do activities that require the simultaneous use of our hands and eyes, like an activity that uses the information our eyes perceive (visual spatial perception) to guide our hands to carry out a movement.
- We use our eyes to direct attention to a stimulus and help the brain understand where the body is located in space (self-perception).
- We use our hands to simultaneously carry out a determined task based on the visual information our eyes receive
Eye-hand coordination is a complex cognitive ability, as it calls for us to unite our visual and motor skills, allowing for the hand to be guided by the visual stimulation our eyes receive. Hand-eye coordination is especially important for normal child development and academic success, but is also an important skill that adults use in countless activities on a daily basis.
Most activities that you do in your day-to-day life use some degree of eye-hand coordination, which is why it's important to ensure that it is as developed as possible. Generally speaking, we use visual information to correct a behavior that isn't appropriate for a situation, which is one of the reasons why this cognitive skill is so important.
Examples of eye-hand coordination
- We use hand-eye coordination whenever we write. As you start making lines, our eyes send visual information to the brain to tell it where the hand is placed and if your handwriting is legible With this information, the brain generates instructions for how the hand has to move in order to create appropriate lines and shapes, resulting in letters. Visual feedback also helps correct erroneous shapes (letters) generated by the previous motor instructions. It is a sequence of fast and precise motor actions that require a certain amount of skill and training.
- A similar sequence takes place when we type on a keyboard. The type of movements are different, but we still use visual information to tell the brain how to guide the hand or if a mistake needs to be corrected.
- When you drive, you are constantly using hand-eye coordination because you have to use the visual information to move your hands on the wheel, keeping the car in the middle of the lane and avoiding accidents.
- Almost every sport requires the use of hand-eye coordination to coordinate what you see with your eyes with the movement if your body. Depending on the sport, either hand-eye coordination (basketball, tennis, football, etc.) or foot-eye coordination (soccer, track, etc.) will be more dominant. Whatever the sport, you can count on the fact that they eye will be coordinating with some part of the body, so a more appropriate term for this type of coordination may simply called motor coordination.
- Putting a key in a lock also uses hand-eye coordination. Similar examples would be when you insert a credit card in a chip reader, or when a child plays with toys with shapes that they have to fit into a certain hole.
Problems and disorders related to poor hand-eye coordination
Remember that hand-eye coordination can work poorly even if the person's eyes and vision aren't affected and if their motor control skills work properly. It is possible for someone with perfect vision to have hand-eye coordination problems that will only be apparent when they have to use both the visual and motor systems together.
Any alteration to the visual or motor systems can significantly affect hand-eye coordination, like visual or muscular problems like strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia, muscle hypotonia, balance problems, or crossed laterality. Brain damage to the motor areas (or areas related to motor areas), or to perceptive areas may cause eye-hand coordination problems.
Poor hand-eye coordination can affect many different activities, which may lead to developmental disorders, learning disorders (problems learning to read and write and play sports), in academics (making mistakes when they take notes, poor hand-writing, poor attention), professional areas (if there are problems typing or assembling objects), and problems with daily activities (from eating to sewing to driving).
How can you measure and assess hand-eye coordination?
We use hand-eye coordination almost constantly in our daily lives, and is one of the skills that makes it possible to appropriately fit into our environments on a daily basis. This is why assessing hand-eye coordination and knowing if there is any deficiency can be helpful in a number of different areas. Academic Areas: to know if a child might have trouble doing certain tasks or completing homework, tests, essays, etc. Medical Areas: To know if a patient will be able to drive (or eat) on their own. Professional Areas: To know if an employee will be able to properly and safely perform their job.
CogniFit's tasks to assess this cognitive ability are inspired by the classic Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), the Hooper Visual Organization Task (VOT), and the Stroop test. CogniFit is able to get a reliable measurement of the user's neuromuscular abilities with an activity that calls for the user to move their hand in time with the visual stimulus. The user has to carefully control their muscles to carefully follow the stimuli with the right speed and intensity. Aside from measuring hand-eye coordination, it also assesses shifting, divided attention, and updating.
- Synchronization Test UPDA-SHIF: A moving ball will appear on the screen. The user will have to keep the cursor on the moving ball as carefully as possible.
- Simultaneity Test DIAT-SHIF: The user has to follow a while ball moving randomly across the screen and pay attention to the words that appear in the middle of the screen. When the word in the middle corresponds to the color that it's written in, the user will have to give a response (paying attention to two stimuli at the same time). Inthis activity, the user will see changes in strategy, new responses, and will have to use their updating and visual skills at the same time.
- Coordination Test HECOOR: Follow the ball with the cursor as it moves around the screen, being careful not to let the cursor leave the ball. The user will have to follow the ball both visually and manually.
- Speed Test REST-HECOOR: A blue square will appear on the screen and the user will have to click it as quickly as possible, clicking in the middle of the square. The user will have to click as many times and as quickly as possible in the time they have.
- Resolution Test REST-SPER: A number of moving stimuli will appear on the screen. The user has to click on the target stimuli as quickly as possible, without clicking on irrelevant stimuli.
How can you recover and improve hand-eye coordination skills?
Hand-eye coordination, like our other cognitive skills, can be trained and improved. CogniFit makes it possible to do with a professional tool.
The science behind CogniFit is neuroplasticity. CogniFit has a battery of clinical exercises designed to improve poor hand-eye coordination and other cognitive functions. The brain and its neurons get stronger and more efficient through use and practice, which is why eye-hand coordination can improve by consistently training the neural connections it uses.
The CogniFit team is made up professionals in the field of synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis, and is how the personalized cognitive stimulation program was created to meet the needs of each user. This program starts with a comprehensive assessment of hand-eye coordination and other fundamental cognitive functions. With the results from this initial assessment, the personalized cognitive stimulation program will automatically offer a training program to help train the user's weakest cognitive skills.
Consistency and adequate training are the essential to a successful visual short-term memory training program. CogniFit has assessments and rehabilitation programs to help optimize this cognitive function. This program only requires 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week.