The Importance of Hand-Eye Coordination

The term "hand-eye coordination" describes the ability of your body's visual system to process information received through the eyes and use it to direct the movements of the hands. Tennis, golf, baseball and basketball players obviously require this skill, but optimal interactions among the brain, the eyes and the limbs are also essential to simple, daily functional tasks.


Hand-eye coordination is a complex neurological process. It begins when the eyes send visual information to the brain, which in turn integrates the data and turns them into a three-dimensional image. Two systems help the brain accomplish this task: The focal system identifies the object, and the ambient system the object's position in space. Once the information is processed, the cerebellum, located in the hindbrain, controls the motor coordination responsible for the task.


Indications of impaired hand-eye coordination become evident quickly when observing an affected child or adult performing a simple task. Peter S. Westwood, in his book titled "Learning and Learning Disabilities: A Handbook for Teachers," presents research showing the poor handwriting may be the result of hand-eye coordination impairment 1. In extreme cases, this impairment may be caused by dyspraxia, a neurological condition that affects motor coordination. The Dyspraxia Foundation lists other symptoms of this disorder, which include an inability to cook, type, tie your shoes, drive a car or shave 2.


Developing hand-eye coordination may result in better reaction times, as well as enhanced agility and athleticism. It may also improve your typing skills, which can help you become more productive at work.


Developing hand-eye coordination may enhance other life skills, linguistic anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath writes in a 2005 article published in the "Journal of Language and Literacy Education." She explains that activities such as finger-painting and clay-molding require children to look ahead and envision the object they wish to create. This skill may eventually enhance strategic thinking.


Hand-eye coordination decreases with age, but certain activities and exercises may mitigate the effect. Julie Winstone, of the University of Southampton's Centre for Visual Cognition at the Department of Psychology, tested the effects of bingo playing on 112 subjects. The bingo-playing group showed superior hand-eye coordination to the non-playing group.

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