Failure to disrupt the 'sensorimotor' memory for lifting objects with a precision grip

Exp Brain Res. 2008 Jan;184(2):157-63. doi: 10.1007/s00221-007-1088-8. Epub 2007 Aug 24.


When repetitively lifting an object with mechanical properties that vary from lift-to-lift, the fingertip forces for gripping and lifting are influenced strongly by the previous lift, revealing a 'sensorimotor' memory. Two recent reports indicate that the sensorimotor memory for grip force is easily disrupted by an unrelated task like a strong pinch or vibration, even when the lift was performed with the hand contralateral to the vibration or preceding pinch. These findings indicate that this memory may reflect sensory input or muscle contraction levels, rather than object properties or the specific task of gripping and lifting. Here we report that the predictive scaling of lift force was not disrupted by conditioning tasks that featured exerting a vertical isometric force with the upper extremity. When subjects lifted a 2 N object repetitively the peak lift force rate was 26.4 N/s. The lift force rate increased to 36.1 N/s when the 2 N object was lifted (regardless of hand) after lifting the 8 N object with the right hand, which reveals the expected 'sensorimotor' memory. The lift force rate did not increase (24.8 vs. 26.4 N/s for the control condition) when a bout of isometric exertion (9.8 N) in the vertical direction with the distal right forearm preceded lifts of the 2 N object. This finding was confirmed with another isometric task designed to more closely mimic lifting an object with a precision grip. This difference in the sensitivity of grip versus lift force to a preceding isometric contraction indicates that separate sensorimotor memories contribute to the predictive scaling of the commands for gripping and lifting an object.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Joints / innervation
  • Joints / physiology
  • Kinesthesis / physiology
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology