Delayed visual feedback affects both manual tracking and grip force control when transporting a handheld object

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Aug;104(2):641-53. doi: 10.1152/jn.00174.2010. Epub 2010 Jun 10.


When we manipulate an object, grip force is adjusted in anticipation of the mechanical consequences of hand motion (i.e., load force) to prevent the object from slipping. This predictive behavior is assumed to rely on an internal representation of the object dynamic properties, which would be elaborated via visual information before the object is grasped and via somatosensory feedback once the object is grasped. Here we examined this view by investigating the effect of delayed visual feedback during dextrous object manipulation. Adult participants manually tracked a sinusoidal target by oscillating a handheld object whose current position was displayed as a cursor on a screen along with the visual target. A delay was introduced between actual object displacement and cursor motion. This delay was linearly increased (from 0 to 300 ms) and decreased within 2-min trials. As previously reported, delayed visual feedback altered performance in manual tracking. Importantly, although the physical properties of the object remained unchanged, delayed visual feedback altered the timing of grip force relative to load force by about 50 ms. Additional experiments showed that this effect was not due to task complexity nor to manual tracking. A model inspired by the behavior of mass-spring systems suggests that delayed visual feedback may have biased the representation of object dynamics. Overall, our findings support the idea that visual feedback of object motion can influence the predictive control of grip force even when the object is grasped.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Time Factors