Journal of Computational Neuroscience

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 295–304 | Cite as

A negative group delay model for feedback-delayed manual tracking performance

  • Henning U. Voss
  • Nigel Stepp


We propose that feedback-delayed manual tracking performance is limited by fundamental constraints imposed by the physics of negative group delay. To test this hypothesis, the results of an experiment in which subjects demonstrate both reactive and predictive dynamics are modeled by a linear system with delay-induced negative group delay. Although one of the simplest real-time predictors conceivable, this model explains key components of experimental observations. Most notably, it explains the observation that prediction time linearly increases with feedback delay, up to a certain point when tracking performance deteriorates. It also explains the transition from reactive to predictive behavior with increasing feedback delay. The model contains only one free parameter, the feedback gain, which has been fixed by comparison with one set of experimental observations for the reactive case. Our model provides quantitative predictions that can be tested in further experiments.


Motor control Tracking Dynamical modeling Negative group delay Synchronization 



We would like to thank the reviewers for their thoughtful comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

The experiment, published in Stepp (2009), was approved by the University of Connecticut Institutional Review Board and conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Citigroup Biomedical Imaging CenterWeill Cornell MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Information and Systems Sciences LabHRL Laboratories, LLCMalibuUSA

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