An object for an action, the same object for other actions: effects on hand shaping

Exp Brain Res. 2008 Feb;185(1):111-9. doi: 10.1007/s00221-007-1136-4. Epub 2007 Oct 2.


Objects can be grasped in several ways due to their physical properties, the context surrounding the object, and the goal of the grasping agent. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the prior-to-contact grasping kinematics of the same object vary as a result of different goals of the person grasping it. Subjects were requested to reach toward and grasp a bottle filled with water, and then complete one of the following tasks: (1) Grasp it without performing any subsequent action; (2) Lift and throw it; (3) Pour the water into a container; (4) Place it accurately on a target area; (5) Pass it to another person. We measured the angular excursions at both metacarpal-phalangeal (mcp) and proximal interphalangeal (pip) joints of all digits, and abduction angles of adjacent digit pairs by means of resistive sensors embedded in a glove. The results showed that the presence and the nature of the task to be performed following grasping affect the positioning of the fingers during the reaching phase. We contend that a one-to-one association between a sensory stimulus and a motor response does not capture all the aspects involved in grasping. The theoretical approach within which we frame our discussion considers internal models of anticipatory control which may provide a suitable explanation of our results.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Size Perception / physiology
  • Touch / physiology*