Development of human precision grip. I: Basic coordination of force

Exp Brain Res. 1991;85(2):451-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00229422.


The coordination of manipulative forces was examined while children and adults repeatedly lifted a small object between the thumb and index finger. Grip force, load force (vertical lifting force), grip force rate and the vertical position of the test object were continuously measured. In adults, the force generation was highly automatized and was nearly invariant between trials. After a preload phase in which the grip was established, the grip and load forces increased in parallel under isometric conditions until the load force overcame the force of gravity and the object started to move. During this loading phase, the force rate profiles were essentially bell shaped and single peaked, suggesting that the force increases were programmed as one coordinated event. Children below the age of two exhibited a prolonged preload phase and a loading phase during which the grip and load forces did not increase in parallel. A major increase in grip force preceded the increase in load force, and at the start of the loading phase, the grip force was usually several Newtons (N). The force rate profiles were multi peaked with stepwise force increases most likely allowing peripheral feedback to play an important role in the control of the forces. After the age of two, the grip force increased less during the preload phase. The loading phase was more regularly characterized by a parallel increase of the grip force and load force and the duration of the various phases decreased. The older children programmed the forces in one force rate pulse indicating the emergence of an anticipatory strategy. Yet, the mature coordination of forces was not fully developed until several years later.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hand / growth & development
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress, Mechanical