Sensorimotor prediction and memory in object manipulation

Can J Exp Psychol. 2001 Jun;55(2):87-95. doi: 10.1037/h0087355.


When people lift objects of different size but equal weight, they initially employ too much force for the large object and too little force for the small object. However, over repeated lifts of the two objects, they learn to suppress the size-weight association used to estimate force requirements and appropriately scale their lifting forces to the true and equal weights of the objects. Thus, sensorimotor memory from previous lifts comes to dominate visual size information in terms of force prediction. Here we ask whether this sensorimotor memory is transient, preserved only long enough to perform the task, or more stable. After completing an initial lift series in which they lifted equally weighted large and small objects in alternation, participants then repeated the lift series after delays of 15 minutes or 24 hours. In both cases, participants retained information about the weights of the objects and used this information to predict the appropriate fingertip forces. This preserved sensorimotor memory suggests that participants acquired internal models of the size-weight stimuli that could be used for later prediction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Weight Perception / physiology*