Movement kinematics in prehension are affected by grasping objects of different mass

Exp Brain Res. 2007 Jan;176(1):193-8. doi: 10.1007/s00221-006-0749-3. Epub 2006 Oct 28.


Previous research has identified that prehension is composed of a reach and a grasp component and that the position and size of the object can independently affect each. However, no effects on prior to contact prehension kinematics have been reported for manipulations in object mass. We felt that this 'lack of a finding' was surprising, as a more accurate grip position on heavier objects would prevent slippage and rotation when lifting the object. Therefore, we hypothesized that increased object mass would effect the grasp component movement kinematics prior to contact in preparation for a stable final grip placement on the object. We report two experiments in which participants reached, grasped and lifted objects of various size and mass, and their movement kinematics were recorded using a motion tracking system. The results showed that the mass of the object significantly influenced prior-to-contact grasp kinematics. Both studies showed that the heavy compared to light objects caused increased peak grasp aperture, a final finger and thumb placement on the object that more closely passed through the object centre of mass, increased lift delay and reduced peak lift velocity. The data are discussed in terms of how object mass influences the reach, grasp and lift components of prehensile movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Size Perception / physiology
  • Weight Perception / physiology