How objects are grasped: the interplay between affordances and end-goals

PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e25203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025203. Epub 2011 Sep 28.


Background: Substantial literature has demonstrated that how the hand approaches an object depends on the manipulative action that will follow object contact. Little is known about how the placement of individual fingers on objects is affected by the end-goal of the action.

Methodology/principal findings: Hand movement kinematics were measured during reaching for and grasping movements towards two objects (stimuli): a bottle with an ordinary cylindrical shape and a bottle with a concave constriction. The effects of the stimuli's weight (half full or completely full of water) and the end-goals (pouring, moving) of the action were also assessed. Analysis of key kinematic landmarks measured during reaching movements indicate that object affordance facilitates the end-goal of the action regardless of accuracy constraints. Furthermore, the placement of individual digits at contact is modulated by the shape of the object and the end-goal of the action.

Conclusions/significance: These findings offer a substantial contribution to the current debate about the role played by affordances and end-goals in determining the structure of reach-to-grasp movements.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult