Knowing your nose better than your thumb: measures of over-grasp reveal that face-parts are special for grasping

Exp Brain Res. 2005 Feb;161(1):72-80. doi: 10.1007/s00221-004-2047-2. Epub 2004 Oct 9.


Typically, when a grasping response is made, the hand opens wider than the target object. We show that this "over-grasp" response is reduced when we reach to parts of our own face, relative to when we reach to other body parts or to neutral objects. This is not due to reaching to different parts of body space, as over-grasp responses are indifferent to whether or not other body parts or neutral objects are placed close to the face. It is also not due to differences in perceptual knowledge of the size of the target object. We conclude instead that the familiarity of face parts influences the grasping response directly. Subsequent experiments demonstrate that the movement representation determining any effect is not based on a torso-centred frame, and not abstracted from the specific hand used for grasping. We discuss the implications of the results for understanding and measuring motor representations for familiar actions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nose*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Thumb*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology