Selective use of visual information signaling objects' center of mass for anticipatory control of manipulative fingertip forces

Exp Brain Res. 2003 May;150(1):9-18. doi: 10.1007/s00221-003-1394-8. Epub 2003 Mar 21.


The present study examines whether visual information indicating the center of mass (CM) of an object can be used for the appropriate scaling of fingertip forces at each digit during precision grip. In separate experiments subjects lifted an object with various types of visual cues concerning the CM location several times and then rotated and lifted it again to determine whether the visual cues signaling the new location of the CM could be used to appropriately scale the fingertip forces. Specifically, subjects had either no visual cues, visual instructional cues (i.e., an indicator) or visual geometric cues where the longer axis of the object indicated the CM. When no visual cues were provided, subjects were unable to appropriately scale the load forces at each digit following rotation despite their knowledge of the new weight distribution. When visual cues regarding the CM location were provided, the nature of the visual cues determined their effectiveness in retrieval of internal representations underlying the anticipatory scaling of fingertip forces. Specifically, when subjects were provided with visual instructional information, they were unable to appropriately scale the forces. More appropriate scaling of the load forces occurred when the visual cues were ecologically meaningful, i.e., when the shape of the object indicated the CM location. We suggest that visual instructional cues do not have access to the implicit processes underlying dynamic force control, whereas visual geometric cues can be used for the retrieval of the internal representation related to CM for appropriate partitioning of the forces in each digit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cues*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology